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Rosa Parks' estate continues to wind though Michigan courts

Making the decision about who will be in charge of administering an estate can be tricky. Not only is it important to select an executor (or executors) who can be trusted, but it's also critical to make sure the designation is valid and the named individuals are up to the job.

Rosa Parks helped lead change during the American civil rights movement. She died in 2005, but her estate has been the subject of several rounds litigation in Michigan probate court since that time. This case shows the kind of complications that can arise when or after an estate has gone through the probate process.

The Michigan Supreme Court became involved in the case by overturning a probate judge's decision to replace the executors named in Parks' will. With this ruling, the initially named executors were reinstated in 2011.

Years later, the estate could soon go before the state's top court again. This time, however, the two attorneys who replaced Parks' designated executors have been accused of improperly charging the estate. Not only that, but the probate judge who installed the men as executors has also been accused of conspiring to make the changes.

Up to this point, probate and appeals courts haven't found evidence of malfeasance or conspiring. Yet the representative for one of the current executors has indicated a willingness to continue the legal fight in the state supreme court.

Of course, no one can fully anticipate a will contest. However, steps can be taken to make sure an estate and its beneficiaries are protected as best as possible. By creating a strong will and dealing with legal challenges in the event they arise, the hope is that an individual's wishes are truly upheld.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "More appeals planned in battle over Rosa Parks estate," Paul Egan, Feb. 24, 2014

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