Some of our Michigan readers are probably interested in avoiding probate litigation as a primary goal of estate planning. There are many ways to avoid litigation, whether the issue is a will contest based on the validity of a will, or arguments among relatives about the distribution of assets. Some wills even include specific clauses that could penalize anyone who challenges the will. However, another good way to avoid litigation may not seem so obvious at first: make sure everyone gets at least something.
Almost all of our Michigan readers probably have a varying amount of assets, and most also have relatives. These two aspects of life may not mix well after a person dies, which is why estate planning is so crucial. Yes, it can be somewhat morbid to sit down and plan out what you would like to see happen to personal property after death, but doing so will spare family members and others the trouble of sorting through all of the legal issues that can come with a will contest or other probate litigation. But what exactly are the key aspects of a will? A recent article tackled that very subject, and it pointed out areas that some of our readers may not have considered before.
Many of our Detroit-area readers are probably familiar with the artwork of Thomas Kinkade. His painting style spawned a huge commercial art enterprise that made him a very wealthy man. Sadly, Kinkade passed away back in April, and although he had a will at the time of his death, a dispute over some of his handwritten notations has resulted in probate litigation.
Our Detroit-area readers may be familiar with Gary Coleman, the actor who starred in the television show "Diff'rent Strokes" from 1978 until 1986. Coleman died in 2010 at the age of 42 following an accident at his home that resulted in a serious brain injury. At the time of his death, Coleman was struggling financially, but he did have a will. However, that has not stopped two women in his life from fighting to establish his intent during recent probate litigation.
Many readers in Detroit and throughout Oakland County are responsible for protecting the assets of vulnerable adults who suffer from Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia. These older adults are often especially vulnerable to being financially exploited, and if loved ones find out that undue influence or coercion has impacted the writing of a will, then the need for a will contest or some other form of probate litigation may arise.