A Will challenge can be filed by an interested party for many reasons including a belief that the Will was created under undue influence via fraud or that it does not meet the legal requirements for such a Will where you live. Preventing the decimation of your estate assets due to a Will challenge and the ensuing Probate is a common reason why many people include something that is known as a no-contest clause in their Will.
A Will challenge can add a significant delay to the processing of your estate in Michigan, meaning that your beneficiaries may not be eligible to receive assets in a timely manner. Furthermore, the estate administrator may have to spend time potentially responding to this Will challenge, which could further decrease the value of the assets inside your estate. By including a no-contest clause in your Will, you may effectively dissuade family members from filing a Will challenge.
A no-contest clause typically states that anyone who initiates a Will challenge against the document that you created, without any reason to do so, would lose any inheritance that they would otherwise have been entitled to through the Will. The goal of a no-contest clause is to prevent an heir who receives less than they anticipated from the Will from challenging it because of their frustration. If there are good reasons to challenge a Will, however, a no-contest clause in and of itself may not be enough to legally deter such a challenge.
This clause is not your only option for guarding against potential challenges to your estate planning documents. A comprehensive strategy for passing on your assets, protecting your chosen beneficiaries, and minimizing estate taxes is part of the typical process you will engage in when working with an estate planning attorney in Michigan.
Furthermore, due to the fact that all Michigan Wills are subject to probate and, as such, vulnerable to challenge and interpretation. An even more effective strategy involves a Trust containing a No-Contest Clause. This simultaneously avoids probate and gives your estate much greater protection against potential challenges.
Scheduling a consultation with a trusted estate planning lawyer can help you to ensure that your estate plan accomplishes your goals.