In Michigan, probate courts in each county handle specific types of cases, such as those regarding estates and trusts, guardianships and conservatorships, matters regarding developmentally disabled individuals, and the evaluation and care of individuals with mental illness.
These are sensitive matters that affect deeply personal rights and interests, including the right to inheritance and the right to make one’s own financial and life decisions. Unsurprisingly, conflicts often arise among parties to the legal matters overseen by the probate court. In some cases, the only way to resolve these disputes is through probate litigation.
What is Probate Litigation?
Probate litigation involves a lawsuit filed in the probate court to resolve a dispute that is within the probate court’s jurisdiction. These disputes are frequently between family members, though other interested parties may also be involved.
Common reasons for probate litigation include:
- Issues related to the validity of wills and trusts, including improper execution of a will
- Claims of fraud, undue influence, duress, or lack of mental capacity in the making of an estate plan
- Disputes over conflicting wills or allegations of a missing will
- Concerns about the validity of deathbed gifts or transfers
- Determination of a person’s right to inherit under Michigan law (kinship)
- Disputes regarding the validity of a creditor’s claim against a deceased person’s estate
- Beneficiaries’ request to terminate, modify, or reform a trust
- Allegations that a fiduciary, such as the trustee of a trust or personal representative of a probate estate, has not fulfilled their duties or has engaged in misconduct
- Matters related to a fiduciary’s fees
- Issues surrounding guardianship, conservatorship, or mental health commitment
- Claims of misconduct or breach of duty by a guardian or conservator
- Concerns regarding changes to a vulnerable person’s estate plan
- Disputes over the ownership of real property or the reformation of deeds
- Attempts to recover the assets of an elderly or incapacitated person that were converted (stolen)
- Changes made to a vulnerable person’s estate plan
- Any disputes regarding a person’s probate estate
Probate litigation is complex because it frequently involves multiple areas of the law in addition to probate law: contract law, elder law, real property law, personal injury law, and more. Probate litigation attorneys in Michigan must have a deep background in these areas, as well as the extensive courtroom experience that allows them to advocate effectively.
Often the parties involved in probate litigation are grieving the loss or diminished health of a loved one, which can inflame tensions and intensify conflicts. While probate disputes frequently involve a financial component, they are often about family dynamics and relationships as well.
Experienced, Effective Michigan Probate Litigation Attorneys
Because of the emotional nature of probate disputes, a probate litigation lawyer must have objectivity and sensitivity as well as legal skill. At Estate Planning & Elder Law Services, we never lose sight of the fact that the lives of real people are affected by these conflicts. Our probate litigation attorneys pursue favorable and just resolutions while remaining mindful of our clients’ resources and relationships.
Reaching settlement in probate litigation is often preferable to going to trial. Settlement of a disputed matter may take less time, be less costly, and can reduce conflict between family members. With this in mind, we work diligently to reach settlement so long as doing so is in our client’s best interest. We also represent clients at trial when necessary to protect their interests.
The Michigan probate litigation attorneys of Estate Planning & Elder Law Services represent clients, including litigants from outside Michigan, in the probate courts of several counties, including Livingston, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Wayne.
If you require assistance with a Michigan probate litigation case, or have questions about your rights regarding a probate matter, please contact our law office to schedule a consultation.