You create an estate plan to make sure your heirs and beneficiaries are taken care of in the event you are no longer able to. You may also do so to minimize the bickering and infighting that may come between surviving family members who may have different ideas about how your estate should be managed. Both of these are genuine reasons to establish a will, but they may not prevent will contests.
A will contest is when a disgruntled party challenges the legitimacy of the will. Before having a contest heard before a probate judge, there must be a legal basis for the challenge. This post will highlight a few of the common reasons will contests end up in court.
Lack of testamentary capacity – In order for a will to be recognized under Michigan law, the person making the will (i.e. the testator) must be of sound mind at the time the will was created and signed. Challenging a will on the basis of lack of testamentary capacity means that the testator did not have the proper mental capacity to know that they were signing a will.
Undue influence – In the same vein, the testator must not be forced or manipulated into signing the will. A beneficiary who believes that the testator was subjected to undue influence would challenge the will on this basis.
Fraud – Further, a testator could have been deceived into believing that distributing assets in a certain manner (or to certain people) would provide a benefit that was unrealistic or nonexistent. In these instances, fraud would be the legal basis for challenging the will.
If you have questions about contesting wills in Michigan, an experienced probate attorney can advise you.