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PROBATE 35: Summary disposition under is warranted when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.

This case arises from a son’s (T) attempt to probate the estate of his mother.

Informal Probate

His mother executed a will designating T as personal representative. She later executed an amendment to her revocable trust naming T as trustee and beneficiary, with the successor beneficiary being T’s Living Trust, and the next successor being a Church in Ann Arbor.  The mother also established an irrevocable trust naming T as primary beneficiary and trustee and M as successor. The will and the revocable trust expressly excluded her other son, appellant D, and his descendants.

Appellee T filed for informal probate with the probate court and was appointed as personal representative of the estate.

Petition Requesting Discovery

Appellant D filed the first petition requesting discovery into the circumstances of the mother’s death. The probate court issued an order permitting appellant D to conduct discovery and issued a “status quo” order prohibiting distribution of the estate without court order.

Appellant D filed a second petition seeking to remove T as personal representative of the estate on the ground that T and M were responsible for the death of the mother. The second petition alleged the mother planned to revise her estate plan to give appellant D a greater share of her estate.

During discovery, eight depositions were taken, and over 21,000 documents obtained. The Sheriff’s Department investigated the mother’s death and concluded that there was nothing suspicious.

Summary Disposition

Appellees T and M moved for summary disposition of appellant’s first and second petitions under MCR 2.116(C)(10).

After thousands of pages of discovery and hours of depositions, and over 1400 pages of pleadings, Appellant D has shown nothing more than unexpected timing and that decedent did not adore her daughter in law.

After a hearing on the motions, the probate court issued its order rescinding the status quo order, granting appellees T and D summary disposition, noting that the first petition had been resolved, and denying the second petition on the merits.

Summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10) is warranted when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

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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. In addition to representing local clients, we have assisted many out-of-state clients who have required legal representation to resolve probate disputes here in Michigan.

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