North Bergen, NJ asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Probate for Michigan

Q: Can my husband's sister contest a wife's rights to everything? Do I still need a will?

1 Lawyer Answer
Trent Harris
Trent Harris
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Jackson, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: By "a wife's rights to everything", I'm assuming you mean the surviving spouse's right to a share of an intestate estate. Generally speaking, if the husband dies leaving a probate estate and leaves a surviving spouse, the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $240,000 or so of the probate estate. After that, the estate would be split with other heirs such as the husband's children. Can the husband's sister contest those rights? I guess, people say all things in court but probably it would not be successful.

As to whether you need a will, yes, probably. Do you want the defaults of Michigan law to dictate who should be the personal representative of your estate and how your probate estate should be distributed, or would you like to choose differently than the law provides? If so, you need a will. Also, you can do things in a will like designate a guardian for minor children, which if you don't do, could lead to contested litigation in probate court. I recommend that a basic estate plan including a will, power of attorney, and patient advocate designation is a must for just about everybody.

Keep in mind these answers are informational in nature only, because we don't really know anything about you and your specific situation based on the limited information in your question. For a full, thorough, and precise answer to your questions, you should make an appointment with a local probate attorney.

Brent T. Geers agrees with this answer

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