Family members often feel profound gratitude when they verify that someone who recently died had a will. When someone dies without a will, all kinds of legal and interpersonal headaches and conflicts may quickly develop. Family members may fight, and the transfer of assets may be less efficient and more costly than they would have been otherwise.
Those who invest the time and energy in estate planning before their passing take control over the legacy that they leave and also take a lot of pressure off of their loved ones. However, sometimes those who are grieving a loved one’s sudden death end up feeling frustrated, disappointed or even angry about the terms included in the will. They may reach the conclusion that there is something seriously wrong with the documents and may resolve to contest them accordingly.
The probate courts hear contests all the time
One of the many functions of the Michigan probate courts serve is to help sort out issues with someone’s testamentary documents. In scenarios where those with an interest in someone’s estate question the accuracy or validity of their will, they can contest the documents in probate court. A contest involves raising claims that the documents are invalid for a specific reason.
Common grounds for will contests include claims of fraud, concerns about forgery, allegations of undue influence and a belief that someone was in a state of diminished capacity at the time of the document’s creation. Provided that someone has evidence supporting their claims, they could convince the courts to set aside someone’s will and either use a prior document to guide estate administration or treat the estate as though someone died without testamentary documents at all.
Will contests do not ensure changes to someone’s testamentary documents, only judicial review. They are an option in almost all probate scenarios where people question the validity of the testamentary documents. The only time when it will contest would not be possible would involve someone including a no-contest clause in the will. Even then, the courts may choose not to disinherit someone if they initiate litigation in good faith and have probable cause to believe there is an issue with the will.
Learning more about Michigan’s probate laws may help people better advocate for themselves as beneficiaries or their loved one who created an estate plan that may or may not have reflected their most current intentions at the end of their life. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to gain clarity about one’s rights and options.