Probate Litigation in Illinois

Probate is the formal legal process that administers the assets of a deceased person. The process is supervised by the probate court. Probate litigation in Illinois occurs when interested parties file lawsuits in the probate court seeking to address an issue in the probate process. 

What is Probate Litigation? 

Litigation is the process of resolving disputes through the court. Litigation involves the filing and answering of a complaint by interested parties. Probate litigation specifically involves court disputes about the estate of a deceased person. There are strict deadlines and standards of proof set forth in Illinois law for different types of probate litigation actions. 

Why would someone litigate a Probate case in Illinois? 

There are many reasons why an interested person would seek to litigate a probate case in Illinois. An interested person may choose to contest the deceased person’s Last Will and Testament presented for probate if they believe the following:

  • The deceased person was unduly influenced or under duress at the time the Will was signed
  • The deceased person lacked the legal capacity to execute the Will at the time it was signed
  • The Will is not properly witnessed under Illinois law
  • Some or all of the Will contains drafting errors so as to not properly reflect the deceased person’s wishes
  • The Will was changed by someone other than the deceased person

Interested persons may also seek to litigate other issues in the probate case including:

  • Disputes as to who is the most appropriate person to administer the estate as executor or administrator
  • Disagreements regarding the compensation paid to the executor or administrator, or the attorney for the executor or administrator
  • Allegations that assets were improperly taken during the lifetime of the deceased person or after their death, and need to be recovered or discovered by the estate through citation proceedings
  • Removal of the executor or administrator from their role due to mismanagement of the estate’s assets, breach of fiduciary duty, or self dealing
  • Disputes regarding the appropriateness of actions of the executor or administrator
  • Disagreements as to the validity of alleged estate debts or claims against the estate

What is Probate Arbitration or Mediation? 

Many people choose to avoid probate litigation in a public court setting and instead opt for more private forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve their issues. This includes mediation or arbitration. These methods typically involve a neutral third party to either decide the case (arbitrator) or mediate between the parties to find a solution (mediator). While arbitration or mediation can be successful, they do not resolve every case, which can result in the case requiring litigation in the probate court. 

How long does Probate Litigation take in Illinois? 

Probate litigation can significantly increase the length of the probate case and ultimate distribution of the estate’s assets. While a simple uncontested probate case in Illinois can be resolved in less than a year, if a case involves probate litigation, it can last for several years or longer. 

If you have questions about Probate Litigation in Illinois, please contact us


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