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Will challenging a will automatically invoke a no-contest clause?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2020 | Estate Administration & Probate

Estate planning experts encourage Fowlerville residents to be transparent when drafting their estate planning instruments. The purpose of such advice is to help avoid you and others from feeling blindsided if and when one’s desires do not meet your expectations. When this does happen, you may feel compelled to dispute what is in one’s will or trust instructions, fearing that the current terms may not actually be line with your loved one’s wishes. Yet if a no-contest clause is included in your family member or friend’s will, such an action could put you at risk of being disinherited entirely. 

Should the fear of this completely deter you from challenging the terms of an estate? The answer to that question depends on whether or not Michigan law recognizes the validity of no-contest clauses. According to the American College of Trust and Estate Council, it does. However, local law also leaves the door open for disputes provided that you have probable cause for concern. 

What may qualify as probable cause? Say that your loved one promised you a certain asset or piece of property in their estate. After this, their health deteriorates to the point of needing a full-time caretaker. When they pass, you are shocked to learn that the asset you were promised was passed on to the caretaker. In such a scenario, the circumstances may imply that the caretaker may have used their influence over your loved one to convince them to modify their will to benefit them (at your expense). 

If evidence of this exists, you may be justified in disputing the terms of the will. As the evidence offers probable cause, you can do so without the fear that whatever interest in the estate you have been allowed being threatened.