Ways-to-Ensure-Your-Will-Won’t-be-ContestedPreparing your last will and testament is an important event.  This is the time when you thoughtfully and carefully consider your final wishes about how your estate is to be divided and, in some cases, your guardianship preferences for minor children.  Once your will is committed to paper and executed, you should have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your house is in order and your wishes will be honored.  However, situations can arise which make it possible for someone to challenge or “contest” your will.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of your will being contested.

The “No-Contest” Clause

One way to protect your will from being contested is to include a “no contest” clause.  In Michigan, a no-contest or “in terrorem clause” or “terror clause” in a will means that any beneficiary who challenges the will can be disinherited.  While the inclusion of this clause would seem to take care of any will contest there are a couple of things to keep in mind:  1) A court can find this kind of clause to be unenforceable if it appears the challenger had a good reason for contesting the will; and 2) This type of clause will not dissuade someone who is not receiving a great deal from you or who has been disinherited from contesting the will.


One way to challenge a will is to allege the will creator was incapacitated at the time the will was executed.  Therefore, a way to prevent your will from being contested on this basis would be to submit to a medical examination near the time of its execution.  Provided your examination shows you to be of sound mind, evidence of this examination could serve to establish the will’s validity. Further, you can keep a copy of the results with your will.  If potentially contesting parties know about your examination, it may prevent them from raising a challenge due to alleged incapacity.


Michigan law required that a will be signed and witnesses in a certain manner.  Accordingly, challengers can attack your will on the basis that it was not signed or witnessed correctly.  Making sure that all requisite steps are properly taken will help protect your will from being contested.

Talk to Your Loved Ones

When someone is disinherited or given a smaller share of your estate than expected, they may end up being a person who seeks to contest your will later.  Having an open and honest discussion with your beneficiaries and possible beneficiaries about the decisions you have made will minimize the chance of one of these individuals raising a challenge.

Ensuring that you’re your final wishes are honored is important.  By carefully planning and drafting your will you can help to ensure that it will not be challenged later.   We have experience drafting wills and anticipating issues before they arise.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance. 

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