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PROBATE 50: Court held that she was not a beneficiary of his will or trust because they were revoked when he and her mother divorced.

Appellant was eight years old at the time her mother and the decedent married and was treated by the decedent as his daughter both during and after the marriage.


Decedent’s will identified his spouse, and identified his living children as Appellant, who is my step-child. Under the terms of his will, the decedent’s assets were left to “The Family Trust.”

On the same date, the decedent and Sally executed a trust adoption agreement and created a joint revocable trust known as “The Family Trust.” The trust adoption agreement stated that the settlors were married to each other and identified appellant as the only living child of the settlors. The agreement identified the residuary beneficiary of the trust as “The above-named Child.” Under the explicit terms of the trust, upon the death of either spouse, the surviving spouse was entitled to receive all principal and income, and upon the death of the surviving spouse, appellant would receive all principle and income. The agreement also provided a default provision for distribution of the trust estate to D and J (appellees).


The decedent and spouse divorced on April 3. The decedent died on July 2. Appellant was appointed personal representative of the decedent’s estate. After a will was discovered, the appellant filed a petition in the trust case and a petition for probate in the will case. Appellant also requested an order determining heirs. The court entered a stipulated order in both cases indicating that the sole issue before the court for determination was how the statutory provision of MCL 700.2807(1)(a)(i) and (3) regarding the divorce of the decedent affected the appellant’s interests under the putative will of the decedent and under the trust agreement for The Family Trust.


Appellees, D and J, moved for summary disposition.  The court found that appellant was not a beneficiary of the decedent’s will or of the Family Trust because the dispositions to her were revoked under MCL 700.2807(1)(a)(i) when the decedent and spouse divorced.

Appellant contends that the probate court erred in its interpretation and application of MCL 700.2806(e) and MCL 700.2807(1)(a)(i) and improperly granted summary disposition in favor of appellees.


Under the EPIC, absent express terms to the contrary in the governing instrument, when a testator who has executed a will subsequently divorces his spouse, the divorce revokes any disposition or appointment of property to either the former spouse or the former spouse’s relatives. Thus, the probate court properly determined that the decedent’s disposition to appellant was revoked under MCL 700.2807(1)(a)(i), because appellant is a relative of the divorced individual’s former spouse.

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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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