Common causes of a contested will

If a family member or beneficiary contests a person’s will, the resulting legal process will delay the administration of the estate. Understanding the factors that lead to these conflicts can help reduce their likelihood.

These are the most common reasons for individuals to contest a deceased person’s will during estate administration.

Undue influence, forgery or fraud

Sometimes, a third party may contest the validity of the deceased person’s will. He or she may claim that someone else forged the document, submitted a fraudulent document or applied undue influence to manipulate the terms of the will. In this case, the court will review these claims to determine whether evidence supports fraud, forgery or undue influence.

Lack of capacity

In this case, the contesting person may argue that the deceased did not have the capacity to make or sign a will. This may be the case if the deceased person:

  • Was younger than 18
  • Had dementia, senility or lack of mental capacity
  • Did not understand the terms of the will, the extent of the property involved or the value of the property
  • Did not understand the consequences of making or signing the will
  • Did not understand who will benefit from the will if he or she dies

Lack of validity

The person contesting the will can also argue that it is invalid in Michigan. The state requires the person writing the will to sign it in front of two witnesses, who must also sign it. However, Michigan does not require a notary.

Careful estate planning can help resolve many potential issues with a will and reduce the risk of conflicts.