Contesting A Will In Michigan Defined: What You Need To Know

Posted by smith clea on August 8th, 2022

Have you been named in someone’s will and are now wondering what the contesting process looks like? 

Contesting a will in Michigan can be tricky and confusing. So it’s important to have the right information before you decide whether to contest or not. 

This article outlines all the information you need to know about contesting a will in Michigan, including your role, how to do it, and what happens next.

Why Contest A Will?

There are many reasons why someone might want to contest a will. 

Maybe you feel like you were left out of the will unfairly, or that the person who wrote the will wasn't of sound mind when they did so. 

Perhaps there was fraud involved, or the will was not properly executed. 

Whatever your reason, if you're thinking about contesting a will in Michigan, it's essential to know the ins and outs of the law.

The Basics Of Filing The Complaint

The first step in contesting a will is filing a complaint with the court. 

This is also known as filing a Petition to Set Aside Will. 

The person who files the complaint is called the petitioner. 

They must be someone entitled to inherit under the living will or, if there are no living heirs, then someone who would have been entitled to inherit under the law of intestate succession. 

They must file their petition within 2 years of the death of their loved one or before they themselves die (whichever comes first).

Is There A Good Cause?

For the court to even hear your case, you must have what is called a good cause.

This means that there is a reason why you are contesting the will. Some examples of good causes include:

  • The decedent was not of sound mind when they made the will.
  • The decedent was forced or coerced into making the will.
  • The will was not properly executed according to state law.
  • There was fraud or mistake involved in the making of the will.

Service Of Process & Accusing Testator Of Undue Influence

After you have filed your case with the court, the next step is to serve the other parties with notice of the lawsuit. 

This is called the service of process. 

The person filing the case is called the plaintiff, and the person being served is called the defendant. 

To serve someone with notice of a lawsuit, you must personally hand them the papers or have someone else do it for you. 

The court will not do this for you.

Collect Proof

To contest a will, you'll need to have evidence to back up your claim. 

This could include things like financial records, emails, or even testimony from witnesses. 

The more proof you have, the better your chances of success.

Expert Witness Statement(s)

For a court to hear your case, you must have at least one expert witness who is willing to provide a written statement testifying that the will is invalid. 

The expert witness must have personal knowledge of the decedent and be able to testify about their mental state at the time the will was created. 

If you do not have an expert witness, your case will likely be dismissed.

Summary Judgment, Trial, And Settlement

If the court grants summary judgment, the will is declared invalid and the estate is distributed as if the decedent had died without a will. 

If the court denies summary judgment, the case will go to trial. 

If the parties settle, they can agree on any distribution of assets they want, regardless of what the will says.

About The Author

Clea Smith is a USA-based author on Legal issues related to estate planning, will & trust, business law, and elder law. Clea Smith does her best writing on these topics that help users to find the best solutions to their FAQ on estate planning attorney, probate, living trust vs will, and more about legal family issues.

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smith clea
Joined: February 6th, 2020
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