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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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MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 95: Property owners did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves.

When the delivery of a deed is contingent upon the happening of some future event, title to the subject property will not transfer to the grantee until the event has occurred. However, in this case A and J did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves, then deposited the deed with their attorney with the instruction to record the deed only upon the happening of a future event, thereby placing a condition only upon the recording of the deed.

MICHIGAN PROBATE 57: Brother granted permanent guardianship of siblings.

At a multiday hearing to address the extension of the guardianship, the eldest children, the mother’s relatives and friends, and school personnel testified regarding the mother’s care of the children, appellant’s treatment of and interaction with the children, and the eldest siblings’ role in aiding the mother to raise the children.

FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

REAL ESTATE 89: RM had not included any language in the deed providing that the property was a joint tenancy with full rights of survivorship, the property instead became a tenancy in common.

RM drafted the deed without seeking counsel and mistakenly believed that, if either she or FK died, the property would fully pass to the surviving tenant. FK’s will provided that if his wife predeceased him—which she did—the personal representative of his estate should sell any residual property that he owned and divide the cash proceeds equally among his surviving children.

FAMILY LAW 83: A trial court can terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child.

A trial court has discretion to terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child when the conditions of MCL 710.51(6) are met. MCL 710.51(6)(b) requires the petitioner to establish that the other parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the children, and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of two years.

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