The purpose of a will is to clarify how the estate owner wishes to distribute the assets in the estate after his or her death. Testators, those who write wills, must comply with Michigan laws for executing wills, but generally they can distribute the estate as they see fit. Nevertheless, sometimes a will creates confusion, especially when one or more survivors believe the will does not truly express the wishes of the deceased. Such disputes may lead to probate litigation.
To take steps to contest the contents of a will, one must first determine if he or she has standing. This means the contestant must be a legal beneficiary, such as a spouse or child, or must be a named beneficiary in a previous will. Additionally, those contesting a will must do so within a certain time frame and must have legal grounds for disputing the validity of the will.
The law limits will contests to four grounds. For example, the contestant must prove that the testator did not follow Michigan laws for executing the will, such as having the appropriate number of witnesses. A contestant may alternately claim that someone else put undue pressure on the testator to change the will or that someone used fraud in procuring the will. Finally, the contestant may assert the testator was not mentally sound enough to understand what was happening during the execution of the will.
Contesting a will can be a challenging and delicate matter. Nevertheless, if an heir has a lot at stake, he or she may benefit from taking the matter to probate litigation. An experienced attorney can be a helpful alley.