Blog

WILLS/TRUSTS 14: The trust gave the mother great discretion to disburse property as she saw fit.

This case involves a trust created by the father in 1992. He died in 1994, leaving behind his wife and mother of their four children: son M, son T, daughter S, and daughter M. After his death, his assets (mostly real estate) flowed into two sub-trusts: the marital trust and the residuary trust. Both were intended to provide for the mother for the remainder of her life. The mother and daughter M were designated as co-trustees for the sub-trusts. When the mother passes away, any remaining assets will flow into the children’s trust to be divided equally between the children.

The marital and residuary trusts grant the mother prodigious power and authority to use and disburse of trust assets. The mother may request distributions without limitation and for any reason and may exhaust the trust principals to provide for her needs. She may disburse of trust assets during her lifetime, favoring one child over another in doing so. The trust also shelters the mother from accountability or liability to any of her children for the manner in which she, in good faith, exercises her powers and discretions; her judgment with respect to all matters shall be binding and conclusive upon all her children.

In 2016, Petitioners asserted that the mother and daughter M breached their duty of loyalty by giving son M an unequal share of property from the trust and by depleting the trust for purposes other than the mother’s care.

Petitioners further contended that son M had unduly influenced the mother into giving him control over the trust, which he used as his personal piggy bank. They alleged that son M had usurped the role of trustee by listing himself on the trust’s bank accounts. Petitioners presented evidence that son M managed the daily business of the trust properties and used trust funds to manage his separately owned properties.

Respondents retorted that the language of the trust gave the mother great discretion to disburse property as she saw fit and even to designate son M as a business representative.

A presumption of undue influence arises when there is evidence of (1) a confidential or fiduciary relationship between the grantor and a fiduciary, (2) the fiduciary or an interest he represents benefits from a transaction, and (3) the fiduciary had an opportunity to influence the grantor’s decision in that transaction.

When the presumption is established, the party seeking to enforce the trust must offer other evidence to rebut the presumption.

In this case, not only did the probate court prematurely dismiss petitioners’ undue influence claim without a motion and without a hearing, but the court also improperly dismissed the case in the face of conflicting evidence that created a genuine issue of material fact.

The court of appeals vacated the probate court’s summary dismissal of petitioners’ undue influence claim and on remand order the probate court to conduct the remainder of the proceedings on the record.

In addition to drafting wills, trusts and other estate planning instruments, Aldrich Legal Services can review your existing estate planning documents. If your family structure has changed due to a second marriage, adoption or divorce, you may need to update your estate planning documents to reflect your current wishes and needs. We want you to be certain that your estate plan accomplishes what you want it to.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Is My Conviction Eligible for Expungement?

At one point or another, we have all made mistakes. For some people, those mistakes involved breaking the law. Convictions have a large impact on someone’s life. Beyond the sentencing ranging from community service to fines, to jail or prison...

REAL ESTATE 44: Rule of acquiescence in boundary disputes.

The doctrine of acquiescence provides that, where adjoining property owners acquiesce to a boundary line for a period of at least fifteen years, that line becomes the actual boundary line. The underlying reason for the rule of acquiescence is the promotion of peaceful resolution of boundary disputes.

FAMILY LAW 37: Referee recommended against changing legal custody or parenting time.

Plaintiff requested sole legal custody, arguing that she and defendant had difficulty co-parenting and that defendant would not agree to medical treatment for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, need for orthodontic work, and need for vision testing and glasses. Plaintiff also requested an alternating weekly or biweekly schedule during the summer, which would increase her overall parenting time.

REAL ESTATE 40: Tax Tribunal denied petitioner’s claim of a principal residence exemption (PRE).

MCL 211.7cc(2) provides that an owner of property can claim the PRE by filing an affidavit that must state that the property is owned and occupied as a principal residence by that owner of the property on the date that the affidavit is signed and shall state that the owner has not claimed a substantially similar exemption, deduction, or credit on property in another state.

The Steps of Construction Litigation

Most contracting agreements move forward without any problems, but when disputes between contracting parties come up, it can be confusing to understand the legal process to take. The legal experts at Aldrich Legal Services want to make the...

REAL ESTATE 38: Plaintiff fails to make land contract payments.

The land contract stated that T Company sold real property to plaintiff. The land contract further stated that if plaintiff failed to make a monthly payment, T Company could execute the quitclaim deed, thereby terminating plaintiff’s rights to the real property under the land contract.

CONTRACTS 6: Do you understand the clauses in your Purchase Agreement?

The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition, concluding that the claims against the realty companies were barred by the valid release contained in the purchase agreement and that the claims against sellers were required to be resolved in arbitration because they fell within the scope of the arbitration clause in the purchase agreement.

DIVORCE 29: Spousal support in gross is non-modifiable, whereas periodic is subject to modification.

As the name implies, periodic spousal support payments are made on a periodic basis. Periodic spousal support payments are subject to any contingency, such as death or remarriage of a spouse, whereas spousal support in gross is paid as a lump sum or a definite sum to be paid in installments. In addition, one major difference between the two types of spousal support is modifiability. Spousal support in gross is non-modifiable, whereas periodic spousal support is subject to modification pursuant to MCL 555.28.1.

How to Dispute an Insurance Adjustment

When something drastic happens, many people need to take extra steps to rebuild your home, recover property, or pay medical bill collectors. Unfortunately, most people believe they have no backup plan if their insurance company refuses their claim...

PROBATE 28: Probate court enters a protective order providing support for a community spouse.

A probate court’s consideration of the couple’s circumstances cannot involve an assumption that the institutionalized spouse should receive 100% free medical care under Medicaid or an assumption that a community spouse is entitled to maintain his or her standard of living. Medicaid is a need-based program, and a Medicaid recipient is obligated to contribute to his or her care.

REAL ESTATE 36: Plaintiff argued that her claim was not time-barred because it did not accrue until the grandmother’s death.

Plaintiff’s interest in the subject property is best characterized as a remainder estate, because her right to possession of the property was postponed until the occurrence of a specific contingency, that being the deaths of the grandparents. Plaintiff pursued this action within the 15-year limitation period; accordingly, this action is not barred by MCL 600.5801(4).

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
consultation
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000
734-237-6482
734-366-4405