When a person in Michigan executes a will, they do so with the intention that their wishes will be followed regarding the distribution of assets to their chosen heirs through the probate process. However, things do not always run so smoothly especially if an heir disagrees with the terms of the will and decides to challenge it in court. There are four general grounds on which a will can legally be challenged.
State law was not followed
First, you can challenge a will on the grounds that the will was not executed in accordance with state law. Michigan law dictates how many witnesses to the signing of the will are necessary to make it legally binding and where these witnesses must be when the will is signed. If this or other applicable state laws are not followed when a will is signed, it may be possible to challenge the will in court.
Lack of testamentary capacity
Second, you can challenge a will based on the grounds that the testator (the person whose will it is) did not understand the extent of their estate assets or who are their natural heirs. This is known as a lack of testamentary capacity. State law dictates what is necessary to prove that the testator did not understand the legal effect of executing a will.
Third, you can challenge a will based on the grounds that the testator was subject to undue influence. Oftentimes when we reach old age, we become physical and mentally weaker. This may make a person more susceptible to another’s influence. Undue influence occurs when a person pressures the testator and places the testator under such duress that the testator is stripped of his or her free will and instead executes a will that favors the influencer in a way that the testator would not have had he or she not be unduly influenced.
Finally, you can challenge a will based on the grounds that the testator was tricked into executing what was a fraudulent document. For example, the testator could be told the document they were signing was something other than a will, when in fact the document was a will. This is an act of fraud that could invalidate a will.
Challenging a will can be difficult
As a will is considered the voice of the testator once the testator has passed away, challenging a will can be difficult. This post does not contain legal advice and cannot serve as the basis for challenging a loved one’s will. Those who want to challenge a will may want to seek professional guidance so they can better understand their legal rights and options.