Most of our Michigan readers probably remember Dr. Jack Kevorkian. The nationally known advocate for assisted-suicide died in the Detroit area in June of this year at the age of 83. Of course, this was only after he served a prison sentence after being convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder for his role in the assisted suicide of a terminally ill Michigan resident. He was released in 2007. Now, in the course of Kevorkian's ongoing estate administration, it looks as if some of his personal property will be returning to his designated heir.
Many of our Detroit-area readers are probably familiar with the artwork of Thomas Kinkade. His painting style spawned a huge commercial art enterprise that made him a very wealthy man. Sadly, Kinkade passed away back in April, and although he had a will at the time of his death, a dispute over some of his handwritten notations has resulted in probate litigation.
Our Detroit-area readers may be familiar with Gary Coleman, the actor who starred in the television show "Diff'rent Strokes" from 1978 until 1986. Coleman died in 2010 at the age of 42 following an accident at his home that resulted in a serious brain injury. At the time of his death, Coleman was struggling financially, but he did have a will. However, that has not stopped two women in his life from fighting to establish his intent during recent probate litigation.
Michigan residents may be aware of the challenges involved when a person inherits assets. For example, discussions of recent high-profile celebrity deaths often quickly turn to the question of who will raise the kids and get the millions. Most of these celebrities even had wills, but that does not necessarily prevent subsequent disputes over the content of those wills.
A battle over the estate of Rosa Parks has made for big news in the world of estate planning. Civil rights legend and pioneer, Rosa Parks died six years ago, but the battle over her $8 million estate continues to this day. Late last year, this blog discussed the Michigan Supreme Court's decision to overturn an earlier ruling regarding the Parks estate. But now, the Michigan Supreme Court has released the details of a confidential settlement reached between the battling parties in 2007.
Many readers in Detroit and throughout Oakland County are responsible for protecting the assets of vulnerable adults who suffer from Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia. These older adults are often especially vulnerable to being financially exploited, and if loved ones find out that undue influence or coercion has impacted the writing of a will, then the need for a will contest or some other form of probate litigation may arise.