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Will contest involves $2.7 million, prior beneficiaries and a cop

Michigan residents, like most people, want to be in control of their lives and what happens to them. The same holds true even in death. This is why many people write wills: to ensure that their wishes are carried out after their passing with regard to their personal property and other important issues. Unfortunately, there are many situations in which a will contest results when potential or expected heirs are not satisfied with the will's provisions or believe there may be problems with the will wording or creation.

Prior-named beneficiaries and a cop are currently involved in a will contest involving a $2.7 million inheritance. The deceased party is an elderly woman who had a will in 2009 but then subsequently revised and modified it in 2012, after getting to know the police sergeant and being diagnosed with dementia. The parties contesting the will were named as significant beneficiaries in the woman's initial will, but were either deleted entirely from the second will or had their inheritances significantly reduced. The police officer received a substantial inheritance in the second will. The affected parties claim that the police sergeant capitalized on the woman's dementia to unduly influence her. One party even asserts that the cop took the woman to several attorneys for the purpose of modifying the will. A mediation on the dispute is currently scheduled, but some of the parties have instructed their attorney not to attend.

Many people avoid creating a will because they find it unpleasant to think about death. Others attempt to draft a will on their own, not realizing how many complications and problems could arise from a poorly or improperly drafted document. Most Michigan residents likely do not want to have their relatives and other beneficiaries fighting over inheritances after they pass. They also likely want to avoid having the state make decisions about the passing of their estates in the event that there is no will or a will is declared invalid. In order to prevent these things, it is important to draft a will that complies with the law and is clear and enforceable.

Because each person's life and wishes are unique, a cookie-cutter will is not likely to be effective in ensuring that a person's final wishes are carried out as he or she intended. A qualified and experienced attorney can help Michigan residents draft a will that clearly explains what should occur after the person's death, while also avoiding problems in the drafting or enforceability of the will.

Source: Seacoast Online, "Former heirs snub mediation for cop's disputed inheritance," Elizabeth Dinan, July 15, 2014

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