R executed his last will and testament on July 21, 2015. The will contains the following provision at issue in this case:
Upon my death, I direct that all of my personal belongings shall be distributed as follows: G and N shall sort through all of the household goods, antiques, tools, and all other items of personal property and identify those items which shall stay within the family. Those items identified shall be distributed to members of those families.
The remainder of personal property shall be placed for sale at auction and any proceeds therefrom shall be distributed pursuant to a list of persons and charities to which the proceeds should be given.
In February 2016, N met with five other nieces and nephews and distributed personal belongings. N retained a John Deere tractor for herself and later sold it for $2,000. P subsequently moved the probate court for an order requiring Null to return the $2,000 and any other items removed from the home.
According to the motion, Article III only allowed the identification and distribution of heirlooms, not all personal property. P argued that the John Deere tractor and other valuable items were not heirlooms and should not have been distributed to N.
N responded that Article III mandated the identification and distribution of all the personal property and that she had not acted beyond the scope of her authority.
The probate court adopted P’s interpretation of the will, holding that Article III only provided for the identification and distribution of heirlooms. The probate court ordered Null to return the $2,000 received from the sale of the tractor.
Wills are an essential part of any estate plan. Without a validly executed will, that is clear, you may or may not achieve your goals. A carefully drafted and properly executed will can pass your property to your loved ones in the manner of your choosing. A will can also help ensure that your children and other family members understand your wishes, thus minimizing the risk of disputes and litigation.
Aldrich Legal Services is pleased to assist you with your estate planning needs.
We draft and review wills, trusts and other estate planning documents to help our clients with their estate objectives. Located in Plymouth, Michigan, we assist clients throughout southeast Michigan.