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Michigan Probate Litigation Cases & News
BlogsPublications | March 23, 2023
2 minute read
Michigan Probate Litigation Cases & News

Two Methods to Curtail a Litigious Beneficiary in Probate Court

In the Estate of Beverly Howe (Mich Ct App March 9, 2023) (unpublished), the Court of Appeals reviewed two tools employed at the probate court level to address a litigious beneficiary whose claims were causing the estate and trust to incur significant administrative expenses. 

First, the probate court fashioned a remedy in which the beneficiary had to personally fund the investigation of an estate claim. The beneficiary wanted the estate to pursue a medical-malpractice claim. The personal representative did an initial investigation and concluded there was no claim worthy of pursuit, but the beneficiary wanted to invest more estate funds into an additional investigation. The probate court struck a balance by ordering the beneficiary to pay $5,000 to fund the additional investigation, and if a meritorious medical malpractice claim resulted from those efforts, the beneficiary would be refunded. The probate court’s order was upheld as reasonable by the Court of Appeals. 

Second, the probate court granted a motion that required the beneficiary to secure a bond that could fund the payment of anticipated estate and trust administration expenses to address the beneficiary’s claims. Under Michigan Court Rule 2.109(A), “[o]n a motion of a party against who a claim has been asserted in a civil action, if it appears reasonable and proper, the court may order the opposing party to file with the court clerk a bond with surety as required by the court in an amount sufficient to cover all costs and other recoverable expenses that may be awarded by the trial court, or if the claiming party appeals, by the trial and appellate courts. The court shall determine the amount in its discretion.” The probate court’s order granting the bond motion was also upheld.

As you can see, this decision may have a significant impact for similar probate cases with beneficiaries who are causing an estate and trust to incur exorbitant expenses. For questions on this and other probate litigation matters, please contact Laura Morris (; 616.752.2407) or David Skidmore (; 616.752.2491).