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3 times you may need to challenge someone’s estate plan

Most of the time, probate proceedings are simply formalities. They involve the courts reviewing the estate plan and overseeing the process of distributing assets among beneficiaries. However, sometimes the Michigan probate courts have to play a bigger role in a person’s estate.

For example, the probate courts may have to analyze the validity of someone’s estate planning documents and help beneficiaries sort out conflicts regarding the assets in the estate. Generally speaking, you cannot challenge an estate plan because you feel dissatisfied with your share of the estate.

However, there are situations in which you may have the right to contest the estate plan.

When you suspect fraud

Estate planning fraud can take multiple forms. It might look like someone tricking a testator into signing documents without understanding them. Estate fraud might also involve someone altering existing documents for their own benefit. Some people even generate completely fake documents to get more of an inheritance than they should.

If you believe that the estate plan provided to the family is fraudulent, you may have grounds to contest it. 

When a caregiver or family member exerted undue influence

Those with close relationships with a vulnerable adult could pressure them to change their last wishes. A spouse who serves as a caregiver or a child who provide medical support might threaten, bully or manipulate a testator into changing their estate plan for personal benefit.

When you believe that last-minute changes to someone’s legacy reflect not their true wishes but outside pressure, you could contest the will on grounds of undue influence.

When your loved one could no longer execute legal documents

To create a valid will in Michigan, someone has to have testamentary capacity. In plain English, they cannot have any signs of cognitive impairment or decline.

Someone recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or showing signs of dementia cannot create a legally binding document. If the date on the documents makes you think your loved one did not have testamentary capacity when they sign them, the courts may choose not to uphold those documents.

Understanding when you can challenge an estate plan in probate court can help you receive your inheritance and protect your loved one’s intended legacy.

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