Issue: Under Illinois law, what guidance is provided by the law for a court when determining the proper construction of the terms in a will?
|Area of Law:||Uncategorized|
|Keywords:||; Wills; Ambiguous Will; Terms|
"The threshold question in a suit to construe a will is whether or not construction of the will is necessary." Coussee v. Estate of Efston, 262 Ill. App. 3d 419, 423 (1994). "Only if a court finds that a will is ambiguous will it entertain an action to construe a will." Coussee, 262 Ill. App. 3d at 423. "[O]nce a court determines that no ambiguity exists in a will, an action for construction should be dismissed." Coussee, 262 Ill. App. 3d at 424.
"In interpreting a will, the court’s sole purpose is to give effect to the intent of the testator. [Citation.] The language of a will is the best proof of that intent. [Citations.]" Coussee, 262 Ill. App. 3d at 423. "A will is ambiguous if the testator’s intent is unclear because words in the will can be given more than one meaning or are in conflict." Coussee, 262 Ill. App. 3d at 423. "An ambiguity can appear on the face of a will or when attempting to implement a will’s provision." Coussee, 262 Ill. App. 3d at 424. "For the threshold determination of whether or not a will is ambiguous, the court may examine only the four corners of the will and evidence brought by the parties which tends to show a latent ambiguity." Coussee, 262 Ill. App. 3d at 424.
Estate of Lello, No. 1-14-2500, 2016.IL.0000211 (Ill. Ct. App. Feb. 5, 2016) (VersusLaw).
Date: March 1, 2016