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Codicil naming son as personal representative to estate voided due to undue influence

The court held that while the appellant had statutory priority to become PR, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in not appointing him PR of the estate when it admitted the 6/29/05 will to probate. The court also rejected his argument that the jury verdict and resulting judgment were void because, with the appeal pending, the probate court was required to stay all proceedings associated with the estate. A will dated 6/1/05, naming the appellee (the decedent's daughter) as PR, and a codicil dated 3/4/09, naming appellant (the decedent's son) as PR were both offered for probate. Appellee and the parties' brother later filed a complaint against appellant, "alleging that he unduly influenced the decedent" to deed him several parcels of real property and to sign the 3/4/09 codicil, "illegally withdrew $144,961.08" from her credit union accounts pursuant to his authority as her power of attorney, and "illegally withdrew $16,272.80 from an account" she held with a broker. Appellant later sought admittance to probate of the 6/29/05 will, which named him as the PR. The probate court issued an order revoking the 6/1/05 will and invalidating the 3/4/09 codicil, and admitting to probate the 6/29/05 will. Pursuant to the jury's verdict following trial, the probate court issued a judgment voiding 4 deeds previously assigned to appellant, ordering him to "reimburse the estate the sum of $434,883.24 for illegally misappropriating and converting estate funds," to return several items of personal property, and awarding attorney's fees to the estate. His request to remove appellee as PR and be appointed in her place "came on the eve of a trial set to determine whether appellant unduly influenced the decedent to transfer several parcels of real property into his name and illegally withdrew funds from the decedent's accounts." Because the probate court "had significant reason to question appellant's honesty, trustworthiness, and ability to manage and distribute the estate in a manner most beneficial to the interested parties," it "was within its authority to deny his request for appointment, even upon admitting to probate a will naming him" as PR. The court also held that only the provisions of the 7/12/13 order "relating to admittance and revocation of the decedent's wills and codicil were stayed because they were properly appealed under MCR 5.801(B)(2)(b)." The issues "litigated at the jury trial were unrelated to the contested wills and codicil" and thus, "could not be classified as proceedings 'in pursuance of' that part of the order appealed." Affirmed.

Antenuptial agreement held to be valid and enforceable

The court held that the parties' antenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable, concluding that to invalidate it on the basis of one party's fault would contravene the agreement's clear and unambiguous language, and that as a matter of law, the...

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