When someone dies and leaves behind a controversial will, it is possible that disappointed heirs may wish to contest the will. This means they are willing to go through probate litigation for the court to decide whether the will is invalid. Not everyone has the right to contest a will, and those in Michigan who choose to do so must be well prepared to make their case.
Movies and television often have dramatic scenes of family members gathering in a gloomy room for the reading of the will. This seldom happens, but more often, the estate executor or an attorney will notify those named in the will or those who are heirs-at-law. An heir-at-law is someone, such as a spouse or a child, who would legally inherit from the estate if no valid will was made by the deceased. However, an heir-at-law who is not named in the will or who is specifically disinherited may wish to contest the will. This is not as easy as it sounds because it means proving to the court that the omission was a mistake.
Those who are not heirs-in-law may contest a will under very limited circumstances. For example, a prior will may name someone as an heir, but a subsequent will does not or greatly reduces the amount of the inheritance. If the person omitted from the new will wishes to contest the omission, he or she will would have to prove that the new will is invalid.
Contesting a will through probate litigation is a delicate matter, and it often pits family members against each other. However, if a fortune is at stake, it may be worth pursuing. To begin, one may wish to seek an assessment of the situation from a legal perspective by speaking with an experienced Michigan attorney.