Signs that it is time to challenge a willThe loss of a loved one can be a devastating experience.  Often the bereaved family is left to plan for their loved one’s funeral and then must face the complicated process of probating their estate.  While this burden can often be lessened by the presence of a will, sometimes the family is dealt an additional blow when they suspect their loved one’s will does not accurately reflect their final wishes.  Under these circumstances, knowing the signs that a will may not be valid will help determine if the will should be contested.

A place to begin is the will document itself.  Michigan, like all states, has specific requirements as to how a will must be executed.  Here, the will must be signed by the person making the will or by someone at their direction in the presence of two witnesses. One basis for contesting a will is to raise a claim that the execution was not proper.  If it appears the will was not signed or witnessed properly, these may be signs that the will is invalid.

Another reason to consider contesting a will is if there is a reasonable certainty that a later will has been executed or the will at issue was revoked.  There may also be the existence of a codicil which is a document which amends the will. Whatever the case may be, if you think additional will documents exist or the will at issue was revoked by its creator, contesting the will may be an option.

A person making a will must possess testamentary capacity meaning that they were of sound mind when they made their will.   It may be apparent from the terms of the will that your loved one was not acting like themselves when they made the document.  There may also be evidence that they were in mental decline at the time the will was executed.  If there is evidence that you’re loved one was not in a condition mentally to execute their will, it may be time to bring a legal challenge to the will.

There may be a suspicion that the will was made a result of “Undue Influence” by another person. What this means is you suspect someone forced or pressured your loved one into signing a will they did not wish to sign.  Evidence of your loved one’s vulnerability is usually a factor as well as the third party’s relationship with them and their presence in their day-to-day affairs.  Likewise, if there is an indication that your loved one was threatened into signing the will, challenging the will may be advisable. Additionally, if there is evidence your loved one was tricked into signing the will or did not realize what they were signing, it may be time to consider challenging the will.

Contesting a will is often a complicated process which requires the gathering and presentation of evidence to support a claim that the will is not valid.  Our office has attorneys who are knowledgeable about the Michigan probate process and contesting wills and can help you advocate for your loved one’s final wishes.   Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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