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PROBATE 23: Petitioner alleged that accounting was incredibly vague and implausible.

The mother is 92 years old and has three adult children, Chris, Karen, and Cindy.

Prior to April 2014, the mother lived with Chris, who served as her co-guardian. She returned to Michigan in April 2014, and in June 2016, after contentious proceedings, Karen was appointed Elaine’s sole guardian and conservator.

On August 7, 2017, Karen filed a petition to allow the first annual account. This included expenses. Karen did not further itemize the accounting or provide receipts or documentation for the expenses. Chris objected to the accounting, arguing, among other things, that it was not properly itemized, the utilities were exorbitant, and the caregiving expense was not supported by proper documentation.

Chris then filed a motion to modify the conservatorship and guardianship and requested that the probate court appoint professionals to fulfill both roles. In support of the conservatorship petition, Chris alleged that Karen’s accounting was incredibly vague and implausible and that she had failed to make records available for his review.

On December 14, 2017, Karen filed a second account, which was materially the same but included a handwritten monthly ledger as well as voluminous documentation including bank statements, various bills, and receipts.

A hearing took place in the probate court on December 18, 2017. Chris contended that the first annual account should be denied and that a professional third-party conservatorship was necessary.

The probate judge explained that he did not do his own accounting and that he would not go through all of these bills to see whether they’ve been properly accounted for. He further acknowledged that at a quick glance some of the expenses raised red flags, but he concluded that things add up and that money has been accounted for and that things balance. He explained that he was accepting the first annual accounting without ruling on whether or not any of these numbers are unreasonable. He explained that nothing in particular appeared to be facially fraudulent.

The probate court denied the motion to modify the conservatorship.

Aldrich Legal Services represents clients in a wide range of probate litigation matters.

Given the emotional nature of these disputes and their financial impact on all involved, it is critical that anyone involved in such a dispute retain highly qualified legal counsel.

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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.

4 Last Minute Ways to Avoid Foreclosure

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5 Necessary Sections Your Prenuptial Agreement Needs

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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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