Can a wife change a husband's will after his death? 11 Answers as of June 05, 2012

If a man declares in his will that his assets and fortune be left to his children and his children alone, nothing to his wife, and he dies, can the wife change it so that money becomes hers to do what she wishes with?

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Olson Law Firm | Edward M Olson
No. The wife cannot change the will. However, the wife can CONTEST the will and demand her statutory share. You will need to talk to an attorney for strategy and options.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/5/2012
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
A wife cannot change her diseased husband's will. There are, however, laws which could prevent her from being totally disinherited. See an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/29/2012
THE HUBBARD LAW FIRM, P.C.
THE HUBBARD LAW FIRM, P.C. | Donald B. Lawrence, Jr.
No, the wife cannot change the will but she may have some rights under Michigan statutes to elect against the will, assuming that she is married to the deceased man at the time of his death and he was domiciled in Michigan at the time of his death. In such cases, Michigan law provides that a wife is entitled to a "Statutory Share" if her spouse dies without a will. In this case you indicate his will provided that everything was to go to others than the wife. If strictly enforced against the wife's interest, she would receive nothing. However, Michigan Statutes provide that depending on circumstances, she may elect to abide by the terms of the will or she may elect to take a statutory share of the assets passing through the probate estate of the deceased husband whom she survived. The statute in question is MCL 700.2202 which provides that the surviving spouse of a decedent who was domiciled in this state and who dies testate (with a will) may file with the court an election in writing that the spouse elects 1 of the following: (a) That the spouse will abide by the terms of the will. (b) That the spouse will take 1/2 of the sum or share that would have passed to the spouse had the testator died intestate, reduced by 1/2 of the value of all property derived by the spouse from the decedent by any means other than testate or intestate succession upon the decedent's death. (c) If a widow, that she will take her dower right under sections 1 to 29 of 1846 RS 66, MCL 558.1 to 558.29. (3) The surviving spouse electing under subsection (1) is limited to 1 choice. Unless the testator's will plainly shows a contrary intent, the surviving spouse electing under subsection (2) is limited to 1 choice. The right of election of the surviving spouse must be exercised during the lifetime of the surviving spouse. The election must be made within 63 days after the date for presentment of claims or within 63 days after service of the inventory upon the surviving spouse, whichever is later. (4) Notice of right of election shall be served upon the decedent's spouse, if any, as provided in section 3705(5), and proof of that notice shall be filed with the court. An election as provided by this section may be filed instead of service of notice and filing of proof. (5) In the case of a legally incapacitated person, the right of election may be exercised only by order of the court in which a proceeding as to that person's property is pending, after finding that exercise is necessary to provide adequate support for the legally incapacitated person during that person's life expectancy. (6) The surviving spouse of a decedent who was not domiciled in this state is entitled to election against the intestate estate or against the will only as may be provided by the law of the place in which the decedent was domiciled at the time of death. (7) As used in subsection (2), "property derived by the spouse from the decedent" includes all of the following transfers: (a) A transfer made within 2 years before the decedent's death to the extent that the transfer is subject to federal gift or estate taxes. (b) A transfer made before the date of death subject to a power retained by the decedent that would make the property, or a portion of the property, subject to federal estate tax. (c) A transfer effectuated by the decedent's death through joint ownership, tenancy by the entireties, insurance beneficiary, or similar means. Under Michigan law, this is a situation where the person responsible for probating the estate has a statutory duty to advise the surviving spouse of her right to make an election pursuant to statute. If the decedent was not domiciled in Michigan at the time of his death, the law of the state in which he was domiciled will more likely apply. The personal representative of the estate should contact an attorney versed in probate practice to advise as to this process. Did this information help answer your question(s)? Details and context often affect the validity and usefulness of an answer that is based on a general statement of the law. You may need to consult directly with an attorney and provide additional information in order to get the best answer. You may contact me to provide further information and to follow up on the question(s) and answer(s) provided. At that time an attorney client relationship will have to be formally established.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/25/2012
The Gardner Law Firm, PLC | Brandon Gardner
No, you cannot modify the terms of a decedent's will after death. You can argue, however, that the will is invalid for some reason (i.e. lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, not properly executed, previous codicils no properly nulled, etc.). If the will is invalid, then the the principles of intestate succession take over, which would (most likely) leave a percentage of the estate to the spouse in this circumstance.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/25/2012
Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
The answer is no, the will cannot be changed, but a spouse can take against the will. You need to talk with an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/25/2012
    Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. | Charles E. Clos
    No. A wife cannot change a husbands will after his death. However in Michigan a spouse omitted from a will may make certain elections against her husbands estate thus receiving a portion of his estate notwithstanding the terms of the will.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/25/2012
    DOUGLAS A. TULL, P.C.
    DOUGLAS A. TULL, P.C. | Douglas A. Tull
    No. Not under any circumstances. It was "his" will. It is not "her" will. By law in Michigan the Will is required to be deposited with the Probate Court for the county of residence of the decedent by the person possessing it, as soon as possible post death. A wife who does not like the disposition of property contained in a deceased husband's will, can "elect" to take against the Will and receive a portion of her statutory (intestate) share - as to assets which pass through probate. That election to take against the will that is provided for a surviving spouse does not exist as to assets which pass outside of probate (such as life insurance, joint bank accounts, pay on death accounts, IRA's and other qualified plans with beneficiary designations, jointly held real property).
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/25/2012
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski
    Law Offices of Gerald A. Bagazinski | Gerald A. Bagazinski
    She cannot change the will. Assuming the surviving spouse's rights have not been negated by a valid prenuptial agreement, she does have several elections. In Michigan, if a wife is disinherited by her husband she may elect one of the following: a. To abide by the terms of the will. b. To take half of the share that would have passed to her had her spouse died without a will, reduced by half of the value of all property derived from her spouse by any other means other than testate or intestate succession upon his/her death. c. to take her dower right as provided by law. The allowances are: FAMILY ALLOWANCE The surviving spouse is also entitled to receive a reasonable family allowance for his or her maintenance during the progress of the settlement of the estate. MCL 700.2403. This allowance may not continue for longer than one year if the estate of the deceased spouse is insolvent.The adjusted amount for 2012 is $25,000. HOMESTEAD ALLOWANCE A surviving spouse is entitled to receive a homestead allowance. The adjusted amount for 2012 is $21,000. EXEMPT PROPERTY ALLOWANCE the surviving spouse is entitled to receive from the deceased spouses estate any household furniture, automobiles, furnishings, appliances, and personal effects. The adjusted amount for 2012 is $14,000.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/25/2012
    James M. O'Reilly & Associates | James M. O'Reilly
    No, a wife cannot rewrite her deceased husband's will. If she was specifically excluded from the will, she is still entitled to an "elective share" by statute. If she was mistakenly omitted, or inadvertently omitted, she could be entitled to a full intestate share.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/25/2012
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    No. The wife cannot change the will. She has a right to many spousal elections. Keep in mind of all martial joint bank accounts, etc.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/24/2012
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