Estate litigation may be initiated for a number of different reasons. Some family members may question whether a will is valid or whether a testator had legal capacity at the time that they drafted estate documents. Other times, family members may worry about how the actions of the personal representative of a Michigan estate could negatively affect their inheritance.
Both beneficiaries and representatives handling estate administration may need to seek legal guidance to better understand what to expect if a probate dispute leads to litigation.
State law and documents influence the process
Michigan state law plays a major role in probate litigation. For example, someone might bring a lawsuit by claiming that they did not receive their statutory inheritance as a spouse.
State law is also important because in scenarios where the courts invalidate an estate plan or will, they might either refer to documents drafted previously by the testator or apply Michigan’s intestate succession laws. Additionally, the details included in someone’s estate planning documents can sometimes influence what judges decide to do when responding to conflicts related to estate administration.
Judges can apply creative solutions
In a scenario where there are questions about the legality or validity of estate plans documents, the discretion of the judge hearing the case often determines the outcome. The same is true in scenarios where people take issue with the actions of the personal representative of an estate or a trustee.
The judge could potentially remove someone from their position, forbid them from taking certain actions or otherwise influence the remainder of the estate administration process. They could also rule on a dispute either in favor of either party involved or by creating their own solution that they feel reflects both Michigan state law and the wishes of the testator.
It will likely take months to resolve a pending probate lawsuit, and then estate administration will continue after resolving the conflict. Estate litigation can be unpredictable, but it is also often the only remedy available for those who believe there is a serious issue with an estate. Understanding what happens during probate litigation can help people decide if seeking legal guidance – and possibly pursuing legal action – is likely the best way forward under the circumstances.