The Probate ProSM has informed you in the past to have a plan in place for someone’s untimely death. While we continue to inform you about the importance of having a will in place, there’s a slight caveat. Even if a will or just a plan is set up, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll avoid messy familial conflicts. As an example, we’ll look at the recent family war that’s been waged inside the family of the late, legendary film director John Singleton.

In this case according to TMZ, John’s mother, Sheila Ward, is in possession of his will. She is scheduled to make a filing in probate court. This will however, is under dispute from one of John’s seven children. Cleopatra, the one who has made her dispute public, has accused of John’s mother of trying to reign in assets and leave John’s children out.  In the State of California, if someone passes away without a will or spouse, the assets will be divided equally among the children.

This dispute came after it was learned that Sheila was filing documents to gain temporary conservatorship status while John was incapacitated. The filing ended however when John died. To add to the context, John and Sheila had a business relationship, which could mean she was the executor of his will, which would not be good news for Cleopatra, since Sheila would have the authority over the document. So there’s a little bit of information here which tells the tale that someone might lose out on something one way or another.

With that said, we at The Probate ProSM are in the State of Michigan. What’s happening with the Singleton family is taking place in California, where the law is set up a little different. Let’s bring this back to our state. In Michigan, if a person passes away with no will, but has a spouse, the surviving spouse will receive the first $150,000 of the estate. After that distribution, the children will receive what’s left over in the estate. If there is no surviving spouse however, the estate will be equally distributed among the children. In order for a parent to receive the estate, the decedent would have to have no surviving spouse or children. Under those circumstances, the parent and the decedent’s siblings would receive an equal share of the estate.

Clearly we want to avoid this kind of messy familial drama and we’re sure you want to as well. Fortunately, there are ways in which you assure yourself as much as possible that something like what the Singleton family is going through doesn’t happen to you. When making your plan, be sure to go over who is in possession of the will, but more important, be sure that everyone can agree on who the executor of the will is going to be. Go over any verbiage and details which may seem confusing or leaves you with a question. Legal consultation can get you and your family started on putting together a will, as well as preparing any documents necessary for additional roles, such as a guardian or conservator.

The Probate ProSM can sit down with you and prepare a will, go over any of the words that are in the documents and make sure that you and your family aren’t just prepared, but are satisfied. If you or someone you know may need a will written or reviewed, schedule a meeting with us today. Our team of attorneys, paralegals and support staff are here to serve you. Call us today at 1-(877)-YOUR-FIRM.