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Probate Administration Archives

Fiduciary duties and will contests

Unfortunately, all sorts of problems can arise with regard to a person's estate after they pass away, such as disagreements with the way in which assets are distributed or tax issues. Sometimes, a will contest may arise over allegations that an executor breached his or her fiduciary duties. The Bingham Legal Group knows how hard this can be for executors, beneficiaries, and entire families in Michigan. When these disagreements arise, it is vital to carefully go over the ins and outs of the situation as you move forward.

Addressing the breach of fiduciary duties

When it comes to estate matters, the challenges that can arise take many forms. Sometimes, families find themselves in the middle of a heated dispute following the loss of their loved one due to allegations that an executor breached his or her fiduciary duties. If you are a beneficiary who believes that an executor failed to distribute assets properly, you should immediately take steps to address the situation. Our law firm also recognizes that some executors in Detroit and across Michigan may also be falsely accused of breaching their fiduciary duties.

What you need to know about probate

In Michigan, legal ownership of your property and assets must go through a process after your death to make sure that any unfinished business such as debt is taken care of, and your possessions are distributed to those who you have named. Your will can designate how you want your estate handled, but it does not typically sidestep probate. At the Bingham Legal Group PC, our estate planning attorneys understand what is involved, and we often provide answers to help people anticipate and plan for this eventuality.

Order of succession in Michigan if you do not leave a will

You may assume that if you die without a will, your assets automatically go to your spouse and children. While there is some truth to this, Michigan has very specific rules for the distribution of your estate to your heirs, as well as definitions of who your heirs are. We at the Bingham Legal Group PC often provide legal information about state laws and inheritances.

Why probate may be preferable to joint accounts and ownership

Many people in Michigan may assume that probate is something to be avoided at all costs. By adding another person’s name to a property title or a bank account, they may be able to skip over that process. However, as Bankrate.com points out, there are dangers to sharing ownership of assets, particularly for people who are not spouses, even though the rights of survivorship can negate the need for a will or probate.

Ways to prevent sibling conflict during probate

Having substantial assets may cause a parent in Michigan to feel anxious over the way the children will deal with the news of who gets what in the estate plan. According to Forbes magazine, much of the potential for disputes over inheritance may be anticipated and addressed ahead of time.

Preparing the inventory

A person who has been named as the personal representative of an estate in Michigan has several duties after the death of the decedent, such as paying his or her debts and distributing assets to the beneficiaries. According to MichiganLegalHelp.org, one thing that has to be done before these other tasks can be undertaken is the preparation of an inventory of the estate.

Who pays the bills?

If your loved one has recently died, he or she may still have unfulfilled debts and obligations in Michigan. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these do not automatically pass to you, even though you are an heir or beneficiary. Not only that, you should not assume that you must use money from your family member’s accounts to pay the bills, and although there are some exceptions, such as joint debts, you typically also should not pay any debts with your own money.

Could the power of attorney you create be challenged?

A power of attorney can be created for several different purposes. You might need a limited POA for the sale of property for which you are unable to be present, or a medical POA in which a health care agent is appointed who can make decisions for your care if you should become incapacitated. A lawyer can make sure you have covered all the bases when an attorney-in-fact has been named and the document is drawn up, because a power of attorney may not be met with universal approval, especially by certain family members.

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Bingham Farms, MI 48025

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