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Reasons Your Will or Trust Could be Contested

A last will and testament doc lays on a table with a pen. The more thought you put into your will, the less likely it could be contested.Everyone reacts in their own way when a family member passes away. Emotions can run high, and people can react more strongly than they normally would. Some family members may feel cheated by what a will or trust grants them leading them to contest the will or trust of the deceased. Will and trust contests can last for years. In the meantime, no one receives the assets they legally should have. 

Stopping the in-fighting may be impossible, but you can take steps to stop family members from contesting your will or your trust. Someone can contest a will or trust if they believe (and can legally prove):

  • You were not mentally capable of executing a will
  • Someone exerted undue influence over you
  • Anyone committed fraud
  • The will was not executed correctly

Keep reading to learn the reasons your will could be contested and how you can stop someone from contesting your will.

1. Properly Execute Your Will or Trust

There are documents and guides online that can help you set up your will. However, the best and most assured way of drafting and executing a will properly is by getting legal aid from an estate planning attorney. Make sure to have two independent witnesses present for the signing.

2. Provide an Explanation

Confused family members are more likely to contest a will or trust. Talk to them during your drafting process to explain your decisions. In-person conversations are stronger, but you could also include your explanation in your legal documents.

3. Include a No-Contest Clause

Including a no-contest clause will help prevent a challenge. A no-contest clause typically means that if an individual challenges the will or trust, they get nothing. This option is helpful for higher-value assets.

4. Prove Yourself to be Competent

One major challenge for a will or trust is the competency of the benefactor (signer of the will) at the time of signing. Avoid this challenge by having your attorney test your competency. Competency tests may include answering questions or possibly involve a doctor. 

5. Clear Any Appearance of Undue Influence

This is another area of many challenges for a will or trust. Many times, a person will leave much to a family member who provides end of life care. Other family members may argue the caregiver exerted undue influence over the will or trust. Avoid this appearance by not involving any beneficiary from helping you draft your legal documents. No family members should be around when you discuss your end of life documents with your attorney. 

Getting Help on Your Will or Trust from an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Take the above steps to ensure that your will or trust goes through smoothly, and everyone receives what you believe to be fair. For legal advice on your will or trust, consider Aldrich Legal Services. We have been helping families plan for their estates for more than 21 years. 

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 95: Property owners did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves.

When the delivery of a deed is contingent upon the happening of some future event, title to the subject property will not transfer to the grantee until the event has occurred. However, in this case A and J did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves, then deposited the deed with their attorney with the instruction to record the deed only upon the happening of a future event, thereby placing a condition only upon the recording of the deed.

MICHIGAN PROBATE 57: Brother granted permanent guardianship of siblings.

At a multiday hearing to address the extension of the guardianship, the eldest children, the mother’s relatives and friends, and school personnel testified regarding the mother’s care of the children, appellant’s treatment of and interaction with the children, and the eldest siblings’ role in aiding the mother to raise the children.

FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

REAL ESTATE 89: RM had not included any language in the deed providing that the property was a joint tenancy with full rights of survivorship, the property instead became a tenancy in common.

RM drafted the deed without seeking counsel and mistakenly believed that, if either she or FK died, the property would fully pass to the surviving tenant. FK’s will provided that if his wife predeceased him—which she did—the personal representative of his estate should sell any residual property that he owned and divide the cash proceeds equally among his surviving children.

FAMILY LAW 83: A trial court can terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child.

A trial court has discretion to terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child when the conditions of MCL 710.51(6) are met. MCL 710.51(6)(b) requires the petitioner to establish that the other parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the children, and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of two years.

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