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PROBATE 38: A fiduciary has the responsibility of providing notice of a contested matter to all interested persons.

The parties, R, B, and F are siblings whose father, the testator M, devised for the assets of his trust to be distributed among them. R was appointed Personal Representative of the estate and successor trustee of the trust.

Petition for Removal of Personal Representative

F petitioned the probate court in propria persona to remove R as personal representative and trustee because he claimed R failed to both answer his questions and to keep him informed about the estate. F also alleged undue influence by R over the testator such that F and B called the validity of the will into question.

Mediation and Settlement Agreement

The removal petition prompted court ordered mediation. R and F attended the mediation while B did not. R and F signed a Settlement Agreement. The Agreement awarded B and F payments each in exchange for withdrawing their claims against the estate and trust, including dismissal of the removal petition.

R petitioned to close the estate based on the Settlement Agreement. B and F, without counsel, filed an objection to the petition arguing that B should not be bound to the Settlement Agreement because she was not notified about the mediation and did not sign the agreement.

Fiduciary Responsibilities

The courts found the Settlement Agreement was not binding and enforceable upon B and remanded this matter for further proceedings to address B’s objections.

MCR 5.120 charges the fiduciary with the responsibility of providing notice of a contested matter to all interested persons. It further creates a continuing obligation for the fiduciary to keep the interested persons reasonably informed of the contested matter. This obligation includes notifying the interested persons of their right to file a petition to intervene in the contested matter and that they could be bound by the actions of the fiduciary.

Facing Probate and Estate Administration

If you have lost a loved one, the last thing you should have to deal with at this time is the confusing and often frustrating process of probate.

Aldrich Legal Services offers comprehensive guidance throughout the probate process, including the filing of petitions, notices to creditors, distribution of assets to beneficiaries and other services required throughout the probate process. We offer probate services for clients whose loved ones died with or without a will.

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