Now Accepting New Clients!

WILLS/TRUST 12: Person contesting a will has the burden to establish lack of mental capacity.

Decedent died a widower on January 4, 2016, leaving behind no children. Appellee, as personal representative of decedent’s estate, filed a will that decedent had executed in July 2014 (7/14 will) with the Wayne Probate Court.

The 7/14 will gave decedent’s boat and 10% of decedent’s residual estate to appellee. The remaining 90% of decedent’s estate was given to decedent’s nephew and appellant’s brother.

Appellant filed a petition requesting supervision of the administration of the estate and to set aside decedent’s 7/14 will, contending that decedent lacked the requisite testamentary mental capacity at the time that the 7/14 will was executed. Appellant asked the court to accept decedent’s will that was signed in April 2013 that left 40% of decedent’s estate to appellant and nothing to decedent’s nephew.

After discovery, appellee moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10), contending that no genuine issue of material fact existed regarding decedent’s mental state in -2- July 2014 because appellant had not produced any evidence which raised a question of whether decedent was competent to properly execute his will.

In support of that contention, appellee offered, among other evidence, the affidavit of decedent’s attorney. Decedent’s attorney stated that he drafted decedent’s 7/14 will at decedent’s express direction, and did not have any contact with any of decedent’s family members regarding decedent’s estate. At the time that the 7/14 will was executed, he believed that decedent was mentally alert and had full capacity to execute any legal documents.

In response, appellant offered his own deposition testimony and the affidavits of decedent’s neighbor, and decedent’s sister-in-law. Appellant asserted his belief that decedent had been increasingly paranoid in the last couple years of his life. Decedent’s neighbor stated that decedent had begun to do a lot of weird and unusual things during the last two years of decedent’s life. Decedent’s sister-in-law claimed that decedent’s confusion and paranoia had led decedent to mistakenly change decedent’s will to eliminate appellant as a beneficiary.

The trial court granted appellee’s motion for summary disposition. The trial court concluded that appellant did not produce sufficient evidence to establish a genuine issue of material fact regarding decedent’s mental capacity to properly execute his 7/14 will.

MCL 700.2501(2) provides that a testator has sufficient mental capacity to properly execute a will if four requirements are met:

(a) The individual has the ability to understand that he or she is providing for the disposition of his or her property after death.

(b) The individual has the ability to know the nature and extent of his or her property.

(c) The individual knows the natural objects of his or her bounty.

(d) The individual has the ability to understand in a reasonable manner the general nature and effect of his or her act in signing the will.

An individual’s mental capacity to properly execute a will is presumed.  A person contesting a will has the burden of establishing lack of testamentary intent or capacity. Furthermore, proof of old age, physical weakness, or forgetfulness is insufficient to establish a lack of mental capacity.

Do You Have a Will or Trust? Will It Accomplish What You Want? Aldrich Legal Services is pleased to assist you with your estate planning needs.

We draft and review wills, trusts and other estate planning documents to help our clients with their estate objectives. Located in Plymouth, Michigan, we assist clients throughout southeast Michigan.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services


What You Need to Know About Distracted Driving

A great U.S. freedom is the ability to drive the open roads. However, every year there are more than 20,000 car accidents in Michigan. Many of these accidents come from distracted driving and could have been avoided. Distracted driving is such a...

Reasons Your Will or Trust 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...

Penalties For Driving Without Insurance in Michigan

Getting into a car and going for a drive isn’t perfectly safe. Driving on the Michigan roads can be dangerous. Driving those same roads becomes financially dangerous if you drive without car insurance. Between fees, charges, and possible...

PROBATE 36: Undue influence to execute Lady Bird deed.

This probate dispute between siblings arises out of the death of their father. Their father lived alone. In 2013, however, he asked appellee to live with him. She agreed, moving into the home in August 2013. Appellants allege that in the years...

Top 5 Most Common Traffic Violations in Michigan

Staying safe on the roads is in everyone’s best interest. However, keeping yourself or others out of danger is everyone’s responsibility. Getting a traffic ticket ends up costing drivers big time. Traffic tickets and citations cost money...

A Cheap Divorce is Not Worth It

Money is an important factor whenever you work with a professional. When you go through a divorce, your money and time can get even tighter. Hiring a cheap lawyer to handle your case could be attractive. However, they will end up letting you down....

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000