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Probate dispute between Michigan man and Medicaid

Even for Michigan residents who own very little, the process of probate and estate administration can be difficult and complex for their surviving family members. Struggling through the process, fighting against third parties or those claiming rights to a portion of the estate, and attempting to resolve the deceased's affairs in a way that he or she would have wanted can be very emotionally difficult and draining for someone dealing with the recent loss of a loved one. When estate administration becomes difficult and overwhelming, relatives of the deceased may want to seek the advice and assistance of an experienced attorney.

A Michigan man is currently involved in a dispute with the state after the death of his daughter. He had earlier moved into the daughter's home to care for her when she was dying of Pick's disease. She passed away in 2013. Now, because she also received Medicaid, her father is fighting the state over a $47,000 bill the state says she owes. The Medicaid system is attempting to collect this money from the daughter's estate, but her father says that her only significant asset is the home in which he now lives.

According to sources, this entire scenario could have been avoided if the daughter had drafted what is known as a "ladybird deed." This deed would have enabled her to maintain ownership and possession of the home during her life, but would have passed the property automatically to a beneficiary at her death. This automatic passing would have allowed the beneficiary to avoid probate, which would have allowed this man to keep the home.

Probate and estate administration is a complicated process in Michigan. Until an heir or beneficiary expresses a concern about the estate administration, the probate process can proceed unsupervised, allowing the administrator to identify heirs, pay debts, manage assets and complete other important tasks with greater flexibility and lesser expense. When concerns arise about the proper administration of the estate, however, a court can convert the process into a "supervised probate," which requires all decisions to be approved by a probate judge. When family members, heirs or beneficiaries find themselves left with the administration of an estate of a relative who did not draft a will or estate plan, the assistance of an experienced attorney can be invaluable in navigating the process and preventing conflicts.

Source: Fox17, "Man fights $47,000 bill from state; expert explains how to avoid this scenario," Darren Cunningham, Aug. 13, 2014

Source: Fox17, "Man fights $47,000 bill from state; expert explains how to avoid this scenario," Darren Cunningham, Aug. 13, 2014

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