In cases where a family member passes away and leaves a will behind, certain heirs may incur shock when they discover that the will does not leave them an inheritance. Intentional or not, this can be a hard situation to face.
In certain cases, the would-be-heir may be able to contest the will in court.
Who can contest a will?
The law does not allow for just anyone to contest a will. According to FindLaw, the person wishing to contest the will must be one of the following:
- Intestate inheritors
- A beneficiary of a prior will
- A beneficiary of a subsequent will
Anyone who proves that they have “standing” in the will can legally contest its validity.
What reasons exist to contest a will?
After establishing “standing,” there must be a reason to contest the will. Common reasons to challenge the will include: mental incompetence of the testator, coercion or undue influence, the will being fraudulent, the existence of a more recent will, or the incompletion of the will.
The person establishing the will must be competent enough to do so, of his or her own volition, without breaking any laws or suffering manipulation from interested parties.
What is the contestant’s burden of proof?
It is not enough for someone to show up to court and say that he or she contests the will. According to the Michigan Legislature’s website, the contestant must prove his or her claim. If the contestant claims that the will is fraudulent, for example, he or she must present documents showing a real signature or other verifying information.
It is important to understand that there is a process to validly protest a lack of inheritance.