The Probate Pro was referred by a prominent personal injury firm to gain control of a wrongful death auto accident. My client, the ex-wife of the decedent and mother of the decedent’s only child, had a strained relationship with her ex-husband. She sought to become the personal representative of the estate on behalf of their minor child. Another law firm represented the decedent’s mother. Both firms wanted their respective clients to be appointed personal representative to control the ligation.
The decedent’s mother argued that her son would be rolling over in his grave if he knew that his ex-wife may be in control of his estate. My office argued that the decedent’s mother was not an heir-at-law, pursuant to MCL 700.2103, because the decedent had a minor child. As ex-wife and mother of the decedent’s minor child, my client had the absolute priority to commence the estate pursuant to MCR 5.302(D).
Michigan’s probate code (called EPIC), §700.3203 addresses the appointment and priority as personal representative:
(1) For either formal or informal proceedings, persons who are not disqualified have priority for appointment as personal representative in the following order:
(a) The person with priority as determined by a probated will including a person nominated by a power conferred in a will.
(b) The decedent’s surviving spouse if the spouse is a devisee of the decedent.
(c) Other devisees of the decedent.
(d) The decedent’s surviving spouse.
(e) Other heirs of the decedent.
The order of priority is set forth in the statute. Of highest priority is the person representative named in the Will. Next, is the surviving spouse , if a devisee in the Will. Next, are other devisees listed in a Will. Next, is the surviving spouse. Last, are the other heirs of the estate.
The court struggled to find a way out of appointing my client as the personal representative. However, justice prevailed. The Probate Pro successfully convinced the court to appoint the ex-wife.