Now Accepting New Clients!

WILLS/TRUSTS 18: Probate court erred in concluding that a statute of limitations barred plaintiffs’ claims challenging the Trust.

In this case, Plaintiffs contend that the probate court erred in concluding that a statute of limitations contained in the Michigan Trust Code (MTC), MCL 700.7604, barred plaintiffs’ claims challenging the validity of the Trust.

Plaintiffs are the daughters and defendant is the son of the settlor. Following the death of her husband, in 1995, the settlor settled the Trust. The assets contained in the Trust primarily consisted of real property and a closely held business. The Trust generally provided that the assets would be equally distributed to her children upon her death.

During her lifetime, Settlor was to be the sole trustee of the Trust, and reserved in herself a number of rights and powers as the settlor, including the right to amend, modify, or revoke the Trust, and to designate different trustees or co-trustees at any time to act on Settlor’s behalf. The Trust also provided that, if Settlor was ever incapacitated and her incapacity certified by two doctors, any further actions taken by Settlor with respect to the Trust would be void.

In 2007, a doctor performed a geriatric assessment of Settlor, and in a letter dated April 18, 2007, informed Settlor’s primary care physician that Settlor was experiencing memory loss and needed help with her finances and medications.

One year after the doctor performed his geriatric assessment, on May 6, 2008, he noted on a prescription pad that Settlor was not capable of participating in business affairs.

In 2012, Settlor executed the fifth and final amendment to the Trust. The amendment revoked all previous amendments and reaffirmed that son would receive the voting shares of the business.

Settlor died on May 14, 2014, and her personal representative sent a letter to plaintiffs indicating that Settlor appointed him trustee of the Trust Established on May 12, 2014. Notably, enclosed with the letter were copies of Settlor’s will and the Irrevocable Trust established in 2012, but not a copy of the original trust or any of its amendments.

Plaintiffs requested a declaration that all amendments to the Trust executed after April 2007 were void because Settlor did not have capacity to execute them, and because Settlor was unduly influenced by her son.

The son moved for partial summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(7) and (C)(8), contending that (1) plaintiffs were barred by the statute of limitations, MCL 700.7604, from challenging the validity of the Trust, and (2) plaintiffs lacked standing to bring a conversion claim on behalf of the Trust.

The probate court agreed with the son that plaintiffs’ claim for declaratory relief against the Trust was barred by the statute of limitations, holding that the statute applied to the trust because it was revocable within the meaning of MCL 700.7103(h).

Plaintiffs first contend that their claims against the Trust did not exceed the statutory limitation period because the statute of limitations applies only if a trust is revocable at the time of the settlor’s death, and in this case, the Trust became irrevocable when Esther was incapacitated in 2008.

The statute of limitations at issue, MCL 700.7604, provides as follows:

(1) A person may commence a judicial proceeding to contest the validity of a trust that was revocable at the settlor’s death within the earlier of the following:

(a) Two years after the settlor’s death.

(b) Six months after the trustee sent the person a notice informing the person of the following:

(i) The trust’s existence.

(ii) The date of the trust instrument.

(iii) The date of any amendments known to the trustee.

(iv) A copy of relevant portions of the terms of the trust that describe or affect the person’s interest in the trust, if any.

(v) The settlor’s name.

(vi) The trustee’s name and address.

(vii) The time allowed for commencing a proceeding.

Because the language of the Trust prevails over the statutory definition of revocable, a certified inability on the part of Settlor to manage her own affairs would have rendered the Trust irrevocable. The probate court therefore erred in applying MCL 700.7604 to bar plaintiffs’ challenges to the Trust.

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

A Cheap Divorce is Not Worth It

Money is an important factor whenever you work with a professional. When you go through a divorce, your money and time can get even tighter. Hiring a cheap lawyer to handle your case could be attractive. However, they will end up letting you down....

REAL ESTATE 50: Trial court relied upon warranty deed documents that provided the 2005 Easement superseded the Original Easement.

In reaching this conclusion, the trial court relied upon the 2013 warranty deed documents that twice expressly provided the 2005 Easement superseded the Original Easement. Review of the 2005 Amendment demonstrated that every aspect of the Original Easement was expressly repeated, modified, or omitted. Nothing in the language of the 2005 Amendment suggests that it is intended to be read in conjunction with the Original Easement.

PROBATE 33: Petitioners filed for co-guardianship of each grandchild.

Pursuant to MCL 700.5204(2)(b), in order for a court to consider appointing a guardian, a petitioner must first establish that 1) the parent permits the minor child to reside with another person; 2) the parent does not provide the other person with legal authority for the minor’s care and maintenance; and 3) the minor is not residing with his or her parent when the petition is filed.

What are Replevin Bonds or Surety Bonds?

It would be a wonderful world if people followed through on the agreements they make. There would be less stress, anxiety, and time wasted if people held up their end of a contract 100% of the time. The legal process would run much more smoothly and...

Are Juvenile Records Public or Can They be Expunged?

There is something in most people’s life they regret - if they could redo a moment, they would have done it better. Although there is no physical way to erase the past or redo past wrongs, there is a legal way to prevent some of the crimes...

FAMILY LAW 42: Motion to modify custody denied due to lack of supporting affidavits or documentation.

The lack of substantiation, again and again, could reasonably call into question plaintiff’s motives and credibility on all matters. The trial court appeared more than open to further considering a motion to modify custody if plaintiff would come forward with supporting documentary evidence, explaining why the court took the unusual step of denying the motion without prejudice.

WILLS/TRUSTS 21: Plaintiff alleged the University failed to use the funds consistent with the terms of the trust.

On April 23, 2018, plaintiff filed suit, alleging (1) breach of contract, namely the University’s failure to use the funds consistent with the terms of the Gift Agreement, and seeking damages or specific performance; (2) breach of fiduciary duty, on account of the University’s failure, as trustee of the charitable trust established by Professor’s gift, to comply with the terms and conditions of the resulting charitable trust; (3) violation of the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act, MCL 451.921 et seq.; and (4) the need for injunctive relief prohibiting the dissipation of funds during the pendency of the case.

What is Collaborative Divorce Family Law?

Coming to the end of a happy time is a challenge no one wants to deal with in life. The end of a marriage through a divorce can especially be a tough, emotional, and complicated period. Lawyers and judges deciding your future, remembering important...

FAMILY LAW 41: To minimize disruptive changes in children’s custody, moving party must establish cause or a change of circumstance.

To minimize unwarranted and disruptive changes in children’s custody, a trial court may only modify children’s custody if the moving party first establishes a proper cause or a change of circumstances. The purpose of this framework is to erect a barrier against removal of a child from an established custodial environment and to minimize unwarranted and disruptive changes of custody orders.

DIVORCE 35: Proceeds received by one spouse in a personal injury lawsuit are generally considered separate property.

Proceeds received by one spouse in a personal injury lawsuit meant to compensate for pain and suffering, as opposed to lost wages, are generally considered separate property. Moreover, separate assets may lose their character as separate property and transform into marital property if they are commingled with marital assets and treated by the parties as marital property.

4 Common Real Estate Disputes to Watch Out For

Creating a mutually beneficial real estate deal usually goes through smoothly with both sides presenting their interests then negotiating toward a middle ground they can both agree to uphold. Unfortunately, not all deals go through without an issue....

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...

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
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000