Michigan Probate Lawyers: How Do I Know When I Should Contest a Will?

Typically, a person decides to contest a will if they believe it is invalid for some reason. When Michigan probate begins, a probate judge reviews the documents and validates them so the executor can distribute the assets. However, if the language isn’t clear or there are arguments about whether the deceased was of sound mind when creating the will, the surviving family could challenge its validity.

You must have legal grounds to contest your loved one’s will. Simply not liking the decisions they made regarding the distribution of property isn’t enough to take your case to court. There must be an issue with the creation of the will or another factor that could make it invalid and unenforceable.

Below are the most common grounds for contesting a will.

Unclear Will

A valid will must contain clear language indicating that the signed documents are the testator’s last will and testament. You could challenge the validity of the will if you believe your loved one didn’t want the document to be their actual will.

Doesn’t Meet State Laws

Every state has specific requirements a person must meet when creating a last will and testament. Typically, the testator (the person who makes the will) must sign the will in front of witnesses. The witnesses should also sign the will. You could argue the will is invalid if it doesn’t contain the necessary signatures or if your loved one didn’t sign it in front of any witnesses.

Fraud or Forgery Involved in Creating the Will

The will you’re challenging could have been created fraudulently or could contain forged signatures. It can be a challenge to prove forgery or fraud when contesting a will in probate court. However, if you believe your loved one didn’t sign the documents, you could have a signature expert review the will to determine whether someone else might have signed a false will to make sure they got the assets they wanted.

Coerced or Influenced to Sign the Will

Sometimes, a family member influences or coerces the testator into signing a will against their wishes. For example, a relative could find out they weren’t included as a beneficiary and threaten the testator in order to get them to draft new documents. A will isn’t valid and enforceable if the person who created it was somehow forced into it.

Incorrect or Unfair Asset Distribution

You can’t challenge the validity of a will if you’re unhappy with the assets your loved one left you. However, you might have grounds to contest the will if you believe the property distribution is unfair or you should have been left more. Additionally, if you think you were left out of the will by mistake, you could pursue a case to receive the assets you’re entitled to.

Parties Allowed to Contest a Will

Only specific individuals can challenge a will in court. They include:

  • Beneficiaries – A beneficiary is a named individual in a will the testator leaves assets to upon their death.
  • Heirs – An heir is any family member who can receive assets from the deceased, such as a spouse, parent, child, or dependent relative.

Still have Questions?

If you have questions about the validity of your loved one’s last will and testament, schedule an appointment with our Michigan probate lawyers by calling  844.885.4200. Whether you believe someone committed fraud during the creation of the will or you want to challenge the value of the assets left for you, we can provide the guidance you need to make the best decisions for yourself and your family.

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