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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we explain time limitations for trust contests in Illinois and answer the question, “what is the statute of limitations for Illinois trust disputes.  We also address the following: 

  • How to contest a trust.  
  • What is a trust contest?, 
  • Who can contest a trust in Illinois?, 
  • How long do you have to contest a trust in Illinois? 
  • How long does it take to resolve a trust contest in Illinois?

What is a trust contest?

A trust contest is a lawsuit that is filed to object to the validity of a trust.  A trust can only be found invalid under specific circumstances, including:

  • The grantor was not of sound mind when the trust was executed;
  • The grantor was under undue influence at the time of execution;
  • The trust has been revoked; or
  • The trust was created because of fraud.

Trusts are generally upheld unless there are legal requirements in writing or execution that have been violated.

For more information about trust contests, see our article entitled What is a Trust Contest?

Who Can Contest a Trust in Illinois?

A trust contest must be initiated by an individual with an interest in the outcome of the court’s decision.  For the most part, beneficiaries and heirs are the only people that can contest a trust, as they are the only people that stand to benefit from the trust.

How Long Do You Have to Contest a Trust in Illinois?

As of January 1, 2020, the period of time for a trust contest to commence is limited to the earlier of two years after the settlor’s death or six months after the date the trustee sends notice of the trust to the beneficiaries.  This is one of many changes that the Illinois Trust Code (ITC) is bringing Illinois in 2020.  Prior to January 1, 2020, the limitation for beneficiaries to bring a claim for breach of trust was three years rather than two.

For a closer look at the Illinois Trust Code and the changes coming to Probate Law 2020, check out our article entitled The Illinois Trust Code Explained | Changes to Illinois Trust and Estate Law for 2020.

How Long Does it Take to Resolve a Trust Contest in Illinois?

 The amount of time it takes to settle a trust is dependent on the schedule of the court and complexity of each case.  Motions practice and extensive discovery delay court proceedings.  

 Consider using a mediator as an intermediary to attempt to limit the amount of time it takes for a trust contest to conclude.  It is often cheaper and more efficient to come to an agreement outside of litigation.

How to Contest a Trust in Illinois

  1. Are you an interested party in the case?  You must have the potential to be affected by the outcome of a case to contest a trust in Illinois.
  2. Do you have grounds to contest a trust?  A trust can only be revoked if it is found to be invalid for specific reasons, such as the creator not being of sound mind when the trust was opened.  Click here to see if your grounds to contest the trust are valid.
  3. Check the trust declaration for a “no-contest clause.”  If a beneficiary attempts to contest a trust with a “no-contest clause,” the beneficiary loses his or her rights to the trust.  Courts typically uphold the wishes of the settlor.
  4. File a complaint.  Once you have taken precautions to ensure that contesting the trust is a wise course of action, prepare a complaint and summons to be filed with the clerk of the court.  Failure to follow the first three steps can result in the loss of your rights to the trust.  The complaint should describe why the trust should be disregarded and what you think should be done with the trust’s property.
  5. Notify the trustee of the suit.  The summons must be sent to the trustee through the local sheriff or by certified mail so you can get “proof of service” of the summons.

For more details about trust contests, see our article entitled How to Contest a Trust in Illinois | Illinois Trust Contests Explained.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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