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Challenging a ruling in probate court

If you are preparing for legal proceedings in a Michigan court following the death of a loved one, you might be feeling anxious or even a bit afraid, especially if you have no legal background in matters of estate. Proceedings operate under state law, and every state has its own regulations. 

Your loved one may have died after signing a last will and testament or without one, in which case his or her estate becomes intestate. Either way, the probate process must be complete in order for the court to determine how to distribute your loved one’s assets. 

Contesting a probate ruling 

If someone names you as a beneficiary in a will, it is critical to understand exactly what he or she wished to give to you. For instance, you might be inheriting business assets or a physical asset, such as a home or a vehicle. Your loved one may have left a specific amount of money to you. 

If you believe a ruling is unjust on certain grounds, you may have the option of issuing a challenge, otherwise known as “contesting probate.” Challenging a probate ruling doesn’t necessarily mean a judge will rule the appeal in your favor. You will need to provide evidence to convince the court.  

Legitimate reasons to issue a probate challenge 

Perhaps you have reason to believe that someone caused your loved one to act against his or her free will when signing a last will and testament. This type of coercion is unlawful. Any issue that suggests fraud, forgery or other actions that might result in a faulty probate ruling constitutes grounds for issuing a challenge.  

Maybe your loved one signed a will without fully understanding its contents. This, too, may be reason enough for you to challenge a probate ruling. If you believe that a designated executor has failed in his or her fiduciary duties, this is another issue that might compel you to contest a ruling during the probate process.  

Avoiding probate problems after a loved one’s death 

Whether your loved one had been ill a long time before passing or died suddenly and unexpectedly, the grieving process takes time. It might be weeks or months before you feel capable of moving on in life without your beloved family member. As the year following a loved one’s death unfolds, many legal issues may arise — some that involve the probate process. 

Sadly, contested probate issues in the past have caused many Michigan families to suffer tension in their relationships, particularly between siblings or step-parents and children. Seeking guidance ahead of time to clarify state probate laws, and knowing where to seek support if a problem arises, helps keep stress to a minimum and ensures that a loved one’s estate will be properly administered.