Sly and the Family Feud

By Doug Chalgian on February 10, 2023

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This twisted story is full of sound and fury, but signifies only, I think, that an agent appointed under a power of attorney by a pro per party is not thereby elevated to the status of that pro per party; and to the extent that agent attempts to speak for or argue on behalf of said pro per party, not only lacks standing but is practicing law without a license.

With that said:

In this newly released unpublished opinion, Decedent dies without a surviving spouse and no descendants.  Nehra, a stepchild, informally opens an intestate estate and is appointed PR, giving notice to a cousin who is the only then-known heir.

Sometime later, before the administration of the estate is complete, Sly (another non-heir), appears with an unsigned pour-over will and unsigned trust, and offers the will under MCL 700.2503 (document intended to be a will), which will is admitted along with an order that adopts the terms of the trust as the dispositive provisions of the will (a neat trick, the legal authority for which is never addressed in this opinion).  The dispositive provisions of the trust are a third each to Nehra, Sly and another non-heir.

Importantly, notice of the hearing to admit the will under 700.2503 was published and sent directly to all then-known heirs, which included appellant.  The order from the hearing is likewise served on known heirs.

An attorney then appears claiming to represent nearly one hundred heirs contesting the admission of the will.  The parties participate in mediation and a settlement is reached.  Approval of the settlement agreement is noticed out and a hearing is conducted.

Appellant received notice of both the mediation and hearing to approve the settlement, and did not attend or object. In addition, Appellant received a check pursuant to the settlement agreement and signed a receipt accepting said check in full satisfaction of her interest in the estate.

Then, when the estate is ready to be closed, a non-heir files a petition seeking to set aside the settlement and claiming to represent Appellant via a power of attorney.  Said non-heir agent shows up at a hearing on her petition and presents argument.  The trial court dismisses her petition because Appellant had notice every step of the way and also accepted payment in full satisfaction of her rights.  The trial judge also notes that this interloper is not a lawyer and lacks standing.

In affirming the trial court, the Court of Appeals specifically relies upon and endorses the finding that this person is practicing law without a license and lacks standing.

The case is called In Re Estate of Terry Broemer (click on the name to read the case).

 

[For the benefit of those of you who are not ancient, the photo on this post is of a 1970’s pop music group called Sly and The Family Stone.]


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mm By: Doug Chalgian
Doug Chalgian

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