Why might you challenge someone’s will?

If you were distressed to find out that your recently deceased Michigan relative left you little or nothing in his or her will, you may be thinking about challenging that will. Before you do, however, you should know that unhappiness over a bequest does not rise to the level of a valid reason to challenge a will.

Instead, as FindLaw explains, you must prove that the will was somehow defective in order to prevail in a will challenge. Generally, the two most successful will challenge grounds are the testamentary incapacity of the deceased at the time (s)he made his or her will and/or the fact that someone unduely influenced him or her to make the will the way (s)he did.

Testamentary capacity

To make a valid last will and testament, the person making it, called the testator, must have sufficient mental capacity to know and understand the following:

  • The fact that (s)he is in the process of making and signing his or her will
  • Approximately what (s)he owns in the way of assets and what they are worth
  • Who his or her family members are that the law presumes (s)he will make bequests to
  • What (s)he bequeaths to each person in his or her will and approximately how much each bequest is worth
  • How and to what extent this will affects all of his or her natural heirs, whether (s)he mentions them in the will or not

If you can prove that your deceased relative failed to understand any of the above, you have a good chance of overturning his or her will.

Undue influence

If you challenge the will on the ground of undue influence, then you must prove that someone so strongly influenced your relative to make the bequests (s)he did that they ceased to represent his or her own desires and instead reflected the desire of the person doing the influencing. The classic examples of an undue influencer are a live-in caregiver or employee. However, anyone who received an unexpectedly large bequest in your deceased relative’s will could be an undue influence candidate.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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