Are Penalty Clauses For Will Contests Enforceable In Michigan?
Most people would like the distribution of their property upon their death to go as smoothly as possible, so that the distribution doesn't put a great strain on their family and loved ones. This is one of the reasons why many people form wills or put other estate planning devices in place.
Of course, just because a person has a will doesn't mean the after-death distribution of their property will go completely without a hitch. In some cases, will contests arise. Such legal battles have the potential to make a big financial and emotional toll on a person's family and loved ones. Thus, among the things a person who is a forming a will may be interested in, is reducing the chances that their will will be contested after their death.
A person may be tempted to include terms in their will aimed at creating a disincentive for the will to be contested that state that a penalty will be incurred against any interested person who challenges the will. Such terms are referred to as penalty clauses. An important thing to note though about such penalty clauses is that Michigan law puts very heavy restrictions on their enforceability. Specifically, Michigan does not allow such clauses to be enforced in relation to a will contest if the contesting of the will is supported by probable cause.
Thus, in many situations, will contest penalty clauses will be found unenforceable here in Michigan. Thus, penalty clauses are often not a terribly effective way to help reduce the chances of a will being contested.
So, what can help lower the odds of a will contest occurring? Some things that may be able to help in this regard include making sure that proper procedural steps are taken when forming a will and taking steps to ensure that the terms of your will, and what you have told your family and loved ones about what you want to have happen after your death, are consistent with each other.
Attorneys can help answer questions about how to best ensure that a will is formed correctly, and decrease the chances of a will contest.