One of the most common reasons for a Michigan estate to wind up in probate is either having assets worth more than the probate threshold of $22,000 or having no will. Probate courts are also where families turn when there is an issue with the estate.
A family member or beneficiary could decide to challenge either the estate plan or the executor carrying it out. The four grounds below are the most common reasons that estates face challenges in probate court.
The documents are not legally sound or properly signed
If a will or estate plan includes provisions that violate Michigan state law, family members may challenge it. They may also ask the court to throw out a will without proper signatures or that no one witnessed.
The family suspects undue influence
When someone makes or changes an estate plan late in life, they may be vulnerable to the influence of others. Undue influence involves the caregiver or other individual putting pressure on a testator to change the terms of their will in some way. If the family suspects that someone other than the testator played a role in setting the terms of the estate plan, they could bring a challenge based on undue influence.
There is reason to suspect a lack of testamentary capacity
In order to draft a binding and valid state plan or will, someone needs to be a legal adult and also competent in the eyes of the courts. Those who have certain medical conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease, as well as older adults experiencing cognitive decline may no longer have the testamentary capacity to draft legally binding documents.
Someone thinks one or more documents are fraudulent
There are those who will create completely fraudulent estate documents. They might trick someone into signing paperwork without understanding what it says. They could even forge someone’s signature in the hopes that no one would notice.
Credible suspicions of fraud can lead to probate litigation and the other grounds for challenges against a will. If you have questions or concerns about a loved one’s estate plan, an experienced attorney can help you.