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PROBATE 21: Probate court believed it would not have jurisdiction once their mother left the state.

In this case, the subject guardianship proceedings were initially commenced in the Macomb Probate Court.

The probate court appointed petitioner (court appointed) as Mother’s guardian. After petitioner learned that Mother desired to make the transition to North Carolina to live closer to relatives, petitioner asked the court to implement a transitional plan to ensure Mother’s physical and emotional well-being.

Following a hearing on the motion, petitioner, respondent (the daughter), and Mother’s court-appointed attorney developed a transitional plan to be supported by a court order to ensure compliance. The petition indicated that the probate court would retain jurisdiction by virtue of the continued guardianship proceedings. Furthermore, the proposed order included a clause indicating that at the end of the 180-day transition period, a hearing will be held to determine if the Guardianship over Mother should continue in Michigan or be terminated upon the commencement of a new Guardianship proceeding in North Carolina.

The trial court, however, indicated its belief that it would not have jurisdiction once Mother left the state.  Despite counsel’s argument regarding the utility of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the probate court disagreed.

Petitioner states that a final guardianship report has not been filed and that the probate court was not required to terminate the guardianship proceedings in order to enter the stipulated order. Furthermore, petitioner did not seek to resign. These assertions are undisputed, and indeed would not change as a result of the probate court’s entry of the stipulated order. The transfer of jurisdiction is contingent upon the occurrence of a final accounting and resignation by the guardian in the court in which the letters of authority were issued.

North Carolina’s courts would recognize the jurisdiction of the Michigan probate court and would require an order of transfer before allowing a transfer of guardianship. Petitioner also would maintain the ability to raise an objection to the transfer if the transfer was not in Mother’s best interests.

Ultimately, if a permanent relocation to North Carolina were in Mother’s best interests after the 180-day transition period, the probate court would remain in a position to make the determination as to whether it should transfer the guardianship proceedings to the jurisdiction of a North Carolina court.

In sum, the probate court would remain in a position to safeguard Mother and her interests until it was convinced that a transfer was in Mother’s best interests. Therefore, the probate court clearly erred by concluding that it would no longer have jurisdiction over Mother following entry of the proposed stipulated order.

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REAL ESTATE 40: Tax Tribunal denied petitioner’s claim of a principal residence exemption (PRE).

MCL 211.7cc(2) provides that an owner of property can claim the PRE by filing an affidavit that must state that the property is owned and occupied as a principal residence by that owner of the property on the date that the affidavit is signed and shall state that the owner has not claimed a substantially similar exemption, deduction, or credit on property in another state.

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REAL ESTATE 38: Plaintiff fails to make land contract payments.

The land contract stated that T Company sold real property to plaintiff. The land contract further stated that if plaintiff failed to make a monthly payment, T Company could execute the quitclaim deed, thereby terminating plaintiff’s rights to the real property under the land contract.

CONTRACTS 6: Do you understand the clauses in your Purchase Agreement?

The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition, concluding that the claims against the realty companies were barred by the valid release contained in the purchase agreement and that the claims against sellers were required to be resolved in arbitration because they fell within the scope of the arbitration clause in the purchase agreement.

DIVORCE 29: Spousal support in gross is non-modifiable, whereas periodic is subject to modification.

As the name implies, periodic spousal support payments are made on a periodic basis. Periodic spousal support payments are subject to any contingency, such as death or remarriage of a spouse, whereas spousal support in gross is paid as a lump sum or a definite sum to be paid in installments. In addition, one major difference between the two types of spousal support is modifiability. Spousal support in gross is non-modifiable, whereas periodic spousal support is subject to modification pursuant to MCL 555.28.1.

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PROBATE 28: Probate court enters a protective order providing support for a community spouse.

A probate court’s consideration of the couple’s circumstances cannot involve an assumption that the institutionalized spouse should receive 100% free medical care under Medicaid or an assumption that a community spouse is entitled to maintain his or her standard of living. Medicaid is a need-based program, and a Medicaid recipient is obligated to contribute to his or her care.

REAL ESTATE 36: Plaintiff argued that her claim was not time-barred because it did not accrue until the grandmother’s death.

Plaintiff’s interest in the subject property is best characterized as a remainder estate, because her right to possession of the property was postponed until the occurrence of a specific contingency, that being the deaths of the grandparents. Plaintiff pursued this action within the 15-year limitation period; accordingly, this action is not barred by MCL 600.5801(4).

LITIGATION 6: The terms of the agreement prevails over the course of performance.

The trial court determined that under the UCC, the express terms of the parties’ agreements prevailed over the course of their performance and course of dealing. Although a course of performance may show that parties have waived a specific contractual term under MCL 440.1303(6), the statute does not similarly provide that a course of dealing may demonstrate waiver.

PROBATE 27: Petitioner filed a petition for mental-health treatment.

In support of the allegations, petitioner attached clinical certificates from a physician and a psychiatrist who observed respondent at the hospital. Both doctors diagnosed respondent with bipolar disorder, determined that she displayed a likelihood of injuring herself and that she did not understand the need for treatment, and recommended a course of treatment that consisted of 60 days of hospitalization and 90 days of outpatient care.

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FAMILY LAW 32: Trial court committed error in failing to address whether there was an established custodial environment.

On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court failed to make any findings regarding (1) the child’s established custodial environment, (2) the child’s best interests regarding the grant of primary physical custody to defendant, (3) the child’s best interests with respect to parenting time, and (4) the child’s best interests pertaining to the parties’ dispute over daycare.

PROBATE 25: Daughter removed as personal representative of the estate.

the probate court determined that Daughter J had managed the estate in a manner that promoted her own interests as a beneficiary over the interests of the estate. The probate court found that such management demonstrated mismanagement of the estate and that removal of Daughter J was therefore in the best interests of the estate.

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REAL ESTATE 32: Plaintiffs and defendants executed a second easement.

Plaintiffs requested that the trial court, either through reformation of the First Easement or interpretation of the Second Easement, quiet title in favor of plaintiffs and declare them to be the owners of an easement to access Lake Superior through the ravine on defendants’ property, enjoin defendants from interfering with their use of the easement, and order compensation for damages to the stairs.

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