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Probate & Estate Planning Case Stories

Read some examples of our probate case wins below to see how we’ve helped some of our past clients get their lives back on track.

The Bottom Line: We Get Results

Pet Trust

We created a Trust for a Client that specifically wanted funds held for the care and maintenance of his horse, which he has owned for over 18 years and thinks will live for another 10 years. We were able to secure a specific amount of money to fund this pet trust so that in the event the Client dies before the horse, the successor trustee (person in charge of the trust once client is gone) has not only money but instructions on how to care for the horse. Aldrich Legal Services, PLLC has handled a number of pet trusts for clients.

Pre-Nuptial Agreement

We had clients that were previously married to other people and had accumulated individual assets. The 2 clients were planning on getting married so we created a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, based on terms provided by the Clients after numerous discussions, that protected each of their assets in the event of a divorce. We had to consider assets currently owned by each client, the appreciation of those assets during the marriage, assets acquired by each individual during the marriage, assets acquired together during the marriage, the appreciation of those assets, income of each respective client and finally spousal support (f/k/a alimony) in the event of divorce. The clients felt secure in knowing that they established a set of terms governing how assets were handled in the event of divorce and thus removing the need for expensive litigation down the road.

Probate Court Required for Out-of-State Property

A client thought that all assets in his father’s estate were able to be passed to the children without the need for probate court. It was recently discovered that the client’s father owned a property in Arizona that was not disclosed in the Will. We had to file a probate action to get our client appointed as the Personal Representative and then get Court approval to transfer title to that property over to our client as the beneficiary of his father’s estate.

Multiple Trust Package

We created a complex multi-trust package for 2 clients that were getting married and had children from other relationships. Each client was provided a trust that they could use as the beneficiary on assets that they individually owned to insure that those assets went into their respective trust if they were to die. Those assets would be distributed or managed for the benefit of their children. This allowed the clients to have peace of mind that their biological children were protected in the event of their death.

Ladybird Deed to avoid probate court

We needed to make sure that a client’s real estate was going directly to the client’s beneficiaries (in this case his children) and avoid probate court upon his death. We were able to do this through the creation of a ladybird deed, which is the mechanism for setting up a beneficiary on a piece of real estate. We drafted this special deed and then coordinated the client signing it and we then recorded it at the Register of Deeds in the County where the property is located. The client was very happy knowing that this property would avoid probate court and go directly to his children in the event of his death.

Special Needs Trust

We had clients that we were doing estate planning for that had a child with special needs. We needed to set up a special needs trust where money was set aside and to be held in this trust in the event the parents died. The clients then appointed a successor trustee to manage this special needs trust for the benefit of the child to make sure there were funds available for housing, medical, education and basic support. This prevented the child from getting all of the money and perhaps not properly managing it. This way the parents felt comfortable knowing that their child was going to be taken care of financially in the event of their death.

Client In Need of a Guardianship Over their Elderly Sibling

A client came to us because his elderly sister is suffering from dementia and is having trouble managing her own financial and medical needs. We were successful in filing a Petition for Guardianship and Conservatorship which appointed our client to make financial and medical decisions for his sister. Our client was able to move his sister into an assisted living facility, sell her home and use the proceeds to make sure that she was properly cared for. Not only was our client happy but his sister was actually much happier being in the assisted living facility.

Amendments to existing estate planning documents

Clients came to us with estate planning documents they had prepared through another law firm years ago. They wanted to change the names of the individuals that they had appointed within their documents. We created amendments to their Trust, Wills and Powers of Attorney because over time their children, who were minors at the time they created their original estate planning documents, are now old enough to step in and be appointed as Personal Representatives, Successor Trustees etc.

Exclusion of child from inheritance

Every once in a while we have clients that wish to exclude a biological child from their estate planning for any number of reasons. We had to create estate planning documents that reference the child in question and specifically exclude them from taking under the estate in question. Michigan recently changed its law regarding this and now a parent can completely exclude a biological child from inheriting anything from their estate.

Financial and Medical Powers of Attorney

We had clients that not only wanted to protect assets in the event of their death but wanted to establish medical and financial powers of attorney in the event they are still alive, but incapacitated. These types of documents are often used in conjunction with standard estate planning documents like a Will and Trust. A will and trust deal with the concept of someone dying. Powers of attorney deal with someone that is still alive but disabled so that they cannot make decisions on their own. This could be due to an injury, a disease or even old age. We were able to set up these documents to appoint individuals that could make medical and financial decisions for the clients if they became incapacitated for any reason.

Choosing a Replacement Successor Trustee

A Client retained our firm to represent him in a probate Court case that was supervising the administration of a contested Trust. Family members were fighting over money that had been left in a Trust listing the family members as beneficiaries. The client wanted to change the named successor trustee of his individual portion of the overall Trust claiming a conflict of interest by the current successor trustee, who was a relative and other named beneficiary. The reason for the need of a trustee for our client’s funds was that he was under the age that the Trust listed when he could withdraw all of his money. Until that time, the appointed successor trustee has the responsibility of managing the funds for various monetary needs. We were able to prove that it was in the best interest of our client and not prejudicial to the Trust to allow him to choose a replacement successor trustee. The Court approved our Petition and the client was able to pick his own successor trustee.

Identifying Beneficiaries in Probate Court

We handle a large volume of non-adversarial probate cases where someone died, and they have assets stuck in their name. If the assets are over $27,000 in 2023 then we need to file a standard probate case. If under $27,000 then we can do a small probate case which takes less time and money. Most estates are standard and require the appointment of a Personal Representative (used to be called Executor) to manage the assets of the estate from a practical perspective. We then have to publish in the legal news for 3 consecutive weeks and wait 4 months for any creditors to file a claim against the estate. Once the 4 months have expired, we can move forward with asking the Court to allow the Personal Representative to distribute assets to the determined beneficiaries. This often requires our help if there is real estate or other non-cash assets that cannot be easily split. Identifying the beneficiaries and assets can be difficult sometimes so each probate case can be unique and require experienced lawyers to get through the process.

Estate Planning Services

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We’re Trusted Legal Specialists in Plymouth, MI

Aldrich Legal Services has been a tremendous help to me in both Probate and Family Trust issues with my parents who both died recently. The help and advice that I have received has lessened my burden tremendously. Lisa Hamilton handled the Probate for me and that has just been concluded. I am so grateful for her professional assistance and guidance.

- Mark O.

I highly recommend this law firm. My divorce was the craziest situation ever. I was honestly very pleased with Lisa Baker and her staff. They kept me informed on all details the communication was outstanding. My divorce was completed in a timely manner and I am very impressed with the results. Thank you Aldrich Legal Services for making this possible for me I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to work with me on my situation. I would give 10 stars if I could.

- Della S.

Brad Aldrich and his team helped me and my wife in setting up a Will & Trust and the experience was extremely easy. Aldrich Legal Services made the process painless and streamlined. The team is very knowledgeable, courteous and most of all, efficient with my time. I have personally referred several friends and professional colleagues to Aldrich Legal Services and will continue to do so for these reasons. Definitely a 5 star rating and I highly recommend.

- Robert G.

Call Now and Get a Free Case Review

Don’t let a bad decision, an 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.

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