Making Sure Your Will Is Valid in Michigan
To minimize the risk of your will being invalidated, it is crucial to ensure that it meets the required legal standards. An estate planning lawyers is best qualified to help with drafting and to advise you on any related issues.
Legal formalities for signing and witnessing a will
Michigan’s probate laws require the testator (the person making the will) to be at least 18-years–old and of sound mind, and they also set down other requirements for signing and witnessing a will. The testator must sign the will in the presence of at least two witnesses, who in turn must put their signature to the document. A failure to meet these fundamental legal requirements leaves the door open to the will being contested.
No undue influence
A will may be invalidated when there is proof that the testator was subjected to undue influence before it was finalized. The person responsible for exerting undue influence to overpower the decedent’s free will must be someone who stands to benefit from the will. This could include a person who convinces the testator to bequeath assets in a certain way by using deception or by withholding services or medicine.
The testator must demonstrate testamentary capacity
According to Michigan law, to make a valid will, testators must demonstrate these four aspects of their mental capacity:
- · Testators can comprehend that they are providing for the disposition of their property after death.
- · Testators are aware of the nature and extent of their property.
- · Testators know to whom they would normally be expected to leave assets.
- · Testators have the ability to comprehend the general nature and effect of signing the will.
A person can lack the ability to understand the above when suffering from mental disorders. However, as in a recent Michigan case involving a person suffering from dementia, mere forgetfulness is not considered sufficient to prove a lack of testamentary capacity for those who are capable of paying attention and exerting their mind at other times. Proving incapacity usually requires evidence from witnesses or a doctor who has seen the testator around the time that the will was signed.
To ensure the validity of your will and for any related queries, contact our estate planning attorney at Van Den Heuvel Law Office.