When people create their estate plans, they often hope to benefit the people and organizations that they love. People have the freedom to choose who should benefit from their assets when they pass on. However, individuals can become susceptible to outside influences. When this happens, the family members of the individual may dispute claims made in the person's estate plans.
People may feel like undue influence, or other outside factors, have influenced the decedent's estate plan. In these cases, legal filings may be made in order to protect the family's interests.
Recently in Michigan, the family of a popular Pentecostal bishop from Detroit has filed a suit in probate court. The family claims that the man's church is refusing to give them the inheritance they deserve following their grandfather's death. The man died at age 93 after founding the popular church that had grown a worldwide following.
These family members believe that the man's net worth was around $10 million. These individuals would like to sell some of the man's property in order to benefit from their inheritance. However, the church claims that the property was not the man's, but was owned by the church. They believe that the man's wealth should benefit the church and not the man's granddaughters.
Additionally, the man's granddaughters claim that the church is refusing to allow them to look at the church's financial records to determine exactly what the man's wealth was. They also contest the man's will and say that it was changed just 11 months before he died -- despite the fact that he was suffering from dementia and other health related issues.
Courts in Michigan have said that they will make a ruling by March to determine if the case can move forward.
It is important for families to understand the legal rights when it comes to estate administration. These issues can create a lot of emotional and financial turmoil. But by acting quickly, people can retain the right to inheritances and settle disputes.
Source: The Detroit News, "Family battles over megachurch founder's estate," Oralandar Brand-Williams, Jan. 27, 2016