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WILLS/TRUSTS 17: The probate court’s role is to ascertain and give effect to a testator’s intent.

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.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

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.

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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.

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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).

LITIGATION 6: The terms of the agreement prevails over the course of performance.

The trial court determined that under the UCC, the express terms of the parties’ agreements prevailed over the course of their performance and course of dealing. Although a course of performance may show that parties have waived a specific contractual term under MCL 440.1303(6), the statute does not similarly provide that a course of dealing may demonstrate waiver.

PROBATE 27: Petitioner filed a petition for mental-health treatment.

In support of the allegations, petitioner attached clinical certificates from a physician and a psychiatrist who observed respondent at the hospital. Both doctors diagnosed respondent with bipolar disorder, determined that she displayed a likelihood of injuring herself and that she did not understand the need for treatment, and recommended a course of treatment that consisted of 60 days of hospitalization and 90 days of outpatient care.

5 Things Everyone Should Do Before Starting a Business

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