The Leading Trust and Estate Litigation Firm in Michigan

Kevorkian Estate Litigation in Michigan Court Disputes Ownership of Art

A lawsuit between the Jack Kevorkian estate and a Boston museum regarding artworks by the late Michigan doctor was filed in October in Oakland County Circuit Court. The estate demands the return of 17 paintings that are in the possession of the Armenian Library and Museum of America.

The suit claims that Kevorkian lent the paintings to the museum for a 1999 exhibition, and that after he was imprisoned for his role in an assisted suicide, he decided that the paintings should temporarily remain at the museum. The personal representative of Kevorkian’s estate stated that the paintings have been appraised at between $2.5 and $3.5 million.

An October auction at the New York Institute of Technology of a variety of Kevorkian’s personal items did not result in any bids for the paintings, which remain subject to the outcome of litigation. According to Kevorkian’s estate plan, the proceeds of sale would be provided to his sole heir – his niece – as well as a children’s cancer charity.

The museum has refused to return the paintings, and has filed its own suit in Massachusetts to establish ownership. The museum claims that Kevorkian had attended an exhibition of the paintings in 2008 and publicly confirmed that he had donated the artworks.

Handling Diverse Probate and Estate Administration Challenges

One notable aspect of the case is that Jack Kevorkian appointed his long-time attorney as personal representative of his estate. When unexpected issues arise in the aftermath of a person’s death, deep familiarity with all aspects of a testator’s estate planning strategy can make a significant difference. A personal representative’s or trustee’s comprehensive knowledge of the full extent of a person’s estate, from cherished personal property to business interests or financial assets that may be under another party’s control, helps provide for will and trust beneficiaries to the full extent intended in an estate plan.

Estate Planning Law Blog


Can you challenge a trust in Michigan?

When planning an estate, choosing to create a trust can be a sure way of protecting assets. Planners may choose to draft revocable or irrevocable trusts. In Michigan, there are circumstances that dictate whether a person may challenge a trust. If you are wondering...

How an inventory of assets protects the executor of an estate

One of the earliest steps in the administration of an estate will involve creating an inventory of assets and financial liabilities. You will need this inventory to present to the probate court along with the last will and other important documentation.  The inventory...

Revisiting estate planning goals after the end of a marriage

There are a variety of scenarios in which a change in life circumstances could leave you facing a need to reassess your goals for the future. Should you and your spouse choose to part ways, the end of your marriage could leave you facing a variety of difficult...

Estate planning is a gift

Some of those who have not yet done their estate planning simply have not found a compelling reason to get started. They know that they need a plan someday, but it does not seem all that urgent or important. They resolve themselves to the idea of doing it later. This...

Should you leave your business to your heirs?

Estate planning is, in part, the process of passing assets to your heirs. You need to create a plan to do this effectively. Common assets include the family home, a life insurance policy, your investment portfolio, your bank accounts and the minor assets at your home,...