In this article, we explain the Illinois rules of construction for wills and trusts. We answer the following questions:
If an Illinois will or trust contains language that is vague or subject to multiple interpretations, interested parties can file a lawsuit called a “construction action” to request that a court determine how the ambiguous language in the will or trust should be construed.
The court’s purpose is to attempt to determine the creator’s (“the settlor’s”) intent at the time that the will or trust was executed. Courts are required to look to only the language of the document unless the language is ambiguous, at which point the parties can introduce extrinsic evidence to prove what the settlor intended. If extrinsic evidence is insufficient to determine the settlor’s intentions, then the court applies rules of construction to determine the result of the lawsuit.
For more, check out our article: What Happens if a Will or Trust is Ambiguous?
Rules of construction are a set of rules that courts follow to decide disputes regarding the intended meaning of ambiguous language in a will or a trust. They are based on precedent set in previous cases. They are presumptions that the court uses to determine what an ordinary settlor would mean in specific cases of ambiguous language. If the court can determine the actual intent of the settlor, the rules of construction will not be applied.
Illinois courts follow these presumptions when interpreting an ambiguous will or trust:
We offer free, paid & online consultation in nearly every area of law throughout Illinois and Iowa. We have a range of options to assist you with your legal needs.
O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone or at our office locations in: