What Is The Illinois Dead Man’s Act?

  • Illinois Probate Law
Dead Man's Act

It may be true that ‘dead men tell no tales,’ but what does that mean in probate court? Some states have done away with the Dead Man’s Act, but Illinois still finds legitimacy in this Act. If you find yourself involved in probate court due to a will or trust being contested, this Act may come into play during the battle.

What Is Probate Court?

Probate is the legal process of settling a deceased person’s estate. The probate court is a part of the judicial system that specializes in wills and trusts of a person’s estate. The courts can help ensure the person’s debts are paid and assets are allocated. But it also oversees disputes regarding the estate. There are times you’ll need a probate attorney. Such as to help the executor settle the estate as well as protect your rights as a beneficiary.

When a will or trust is in dispute, the opposing parties will work hard to prove the will is either upheld or challenged and made whole based on what the passing person wanted. And it’s during these disputes that the Dead Man’s Act may come into use.

What Is The Illinois Dead Man’s Act?

In layperson’s terms, the Illinois Dead Man’s Act states that someone who has an interest in the estate cannot testify at a trial as to a conversation with the deceased person regarding the estate.

The Illinois Dead Man’s Act protects the estate from fraudulent claims or defenses by removing the temptation to testify falsely. A person who has a direct interest in the estate is someone who can have a gain or loss due to the outcome of their testimony.

This person can be:

  • spouse
  • immediate family
  • heir
  • beneficiary
  • shareholder

It’s understandable that if someone has a direct interest in the estate, they may skew their statement to benefit themself. Therefore, the Dead Man’s Act is still upheld in Illinois. But as you can imagine, there are always exceptions to this rule.

This is a tricky Act to introduce during a court dispute. This is why it’s important to have an experienced probate attorney on your side. There are many clauses and exceptions to the Dead Man’s Act. An attorney who specializes in probate can help clarify this Act and use or fight it when it comes up when a will or trust is contested.

Oak Brook Probate Attorney

Do you have questions about Illinois probate, or are you involved in the contesting of a will or trust? If so, an experienced probate lawyer can advise you on the best options for your situation. To talk to a qualified probate attorney in Chicago, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835

Areas We Serve: Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake and Will counties.