Probate | Litigation

Litigating Undue Influence Disputes

When used in a legal context, undue influence refers to circumstances in which one person unfairly or unduly pressures or coerces an individual who is making an important decision. Undue influence can occur in many different situations. A claim of undue influence is most often encountered in an action contesting a will or trust, but it also can be asserted to challenge the validity of other documents, such as powers of attorney, healthcare … [Read more...]

What Is a Spendthrift Clause in a Trust?

In estate planning, a concern can arise about protecting assets from being recklessly squandered away by a beneficiary. The concern may exist simply because there are some people who handle money irresponsibly. The worry also arises for beneficiaries with a history of substance abuse or other addictive behavior, as well as individuals in destructive or problematic relationships. Often the answer is to include a spendthrift clause in a trust as … [Read more...]

Can a Lost or Accidentally Destroyed Will Be Valid?

To probate a Last Will and Testament in Michigan, as in other states, the original will has to be presented. What happens if the original will cannot be found after someone dies? In some cases, the probate court may allow a copy of the will to substitute for a lost or accidentally destroyed will. Each case will be decided by the court based on the specific facts of the situation. Michigan Laws for Lost or Destroyed Wills The Michigan Estates … [Read more...]

When Should Family Members Be Compensated as Caregivers?

In many families, the situation is familiar: As your loved ones grow older, they need help with daily and routine tasks. Often, a family member steps in and takes care of the elder. Over time, the elder needs more help, so the family caregiver’s responsibilities grow. As the caregiver spends more time with the elder, even in harmonious families, other family members can become resentful. If the elder gives money to the caregiver, disputes are … [Read more...]

Nursing Home Negligence and Medical Malpractice in Michigan

When an elder enters a nursing home or other assisted-living facility, the elder and his or her family made that difficult decision based on the elder’s need to receive the specialized care offered by the facility. Sadly, in too many cases, elders in nursing homes receive substandard care or are abused or neglected by the very people who are entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of them. Sometimes, injury, illness, infection—or even … [Read more...]

Removal of a Trustee in Michigan: The Rules Are Clear

When a trust fund is created, the trust documents name a trustee to administer the trust. Depending on the type of trust, the trustee’s responsibilities may begin immediately, or they may begin on the death or incapacity of the person creating the trust, referred to as the grantor or settlor. What happens if, at any point, someone becomes unhappy with how the trustee is performing his, her, or their responsibilities? Under Michigan law, reasons … [Read more...]

Important Tips: Why and How to Fund a Trust

Trusts are a valuable tool in estate planning. A properly-crafted trust can save substantially on taxes, avoid having your estate probated and supervised by a court after your death, and make sure that your hard-earned assets are used in the way you intend during your life and afterwards. However, creating a trust is only the beginning of the process. To be of any use at all, a trust has to be funded. A trust without funding is like a bank … [Read more...]

What to Expect at a Michigan Guardianship Hearing

If your elder family member or loved one is having difficulty taking care of himself or herself, you may consider seeking appointment of a guardian. In a Michigan guardianship proceeding, the probate court appoints a person to make necessary decisions for a legally incapacitated individual. If you are considering seeking appointment as a guardian, or if someone else is seeking appointment as a guardian for your family member of loved one, … [Read more...]

BRMM Wins Trust Litigation Case in the Michigan Court of Appeals

BRMM attorney Andrew Mayoras recently won a probate litigation case concerning interpretation of the provisions of a trust agreement. The action arose following the death of the person who created the trust (decedent), when the surviving spouse (widow) and the decedent's sister disagreed on the interpretation of provisions of the trust relating to removal and selection of trustees. Dispute Over Interpretation of Trust Provisions During his … [Read more...]

Does the Family Have to Pay the Debts of a Person Who Dies?

When a family loses a loved one, the grieving process is difficult under any circumstances. Family members should be able to focus solely on supporting and consoling each other. Unfortunately, even while the family continues to grieve their loss, they also face the task of making sure that their loved one’s financial affairs are put in order. A question that often arises is whether family members are individually, personally responsible for … [Read more...]