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PROBATE 4: Can you reopen a probated estate?

Appellant appeals from an order of the Probate Court denying his petition to reopen his deceased mother’s estate.

Deceased died in 1999. According to the lower court docket entries, an estate was opened in 1999, thereafter closed, reopened again in 2005 and closed, and reopened yet again in 2011 and closed. In 2017, appellant sought to again reopen the estate. This time, he did so to pursue, as he describes it, a civil rights case against an attorney who gave his mother bad advice in 1993.

According to his brief, property was sold by court order in order to pay the attorney fees of the attorney representing the deceased. Appellant also states that it was eventually determined that his mother was not an incapacitated person and that that case was dismissed. From appellant’s statements at the hearing in the Probate Court on his petition to reopen the estate, he is seeking to bring an action against that original attorney and whether the law suit is a successful, unsuccessful or even summarily dismissed should be up to the Judge and possible jury assigned to that particular civil rights suit.

On appeal, appellant makes no showing that there is any possible claim for which the period of limitations has not expired.

The Probate Court denied the petition to reopen the estate. The court concluded that, because the potential underlying action arose in the 1990s, any possible period of limitations had long since expired. Therefore, the court determined that good cause had not been shown to reopen the estate. See MCR 5.312.

When an estate is reopened, a new administration is begun. This means that required notices must be served on the interested persons and that an inventory must be prepared (to reflect the after-discovered asset or other change from the prior inventory).

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.  Let an experienced probate lawyer from Aldrich Legal Services focus on your legal needs so you can focus on your friends and family at this difficult time.

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