In the past four years, The Probate Pro has seen an influx of personal injury protection — PIP insurers meddling their way into the probate court. Generally under the guise of “protecting the best interest of the ward,” PIP insurance companies are often appearing and objecting to petitions for guardianship, conservatorship, and Annual Accounts. Most often, these insurance companies’ motives are transparent. The motive is to provide another basis to interfere with the appropriate payment of no fault benefits.
The Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC) specifically states that “A person interested in a ward’s welfare…” is an interested party for a petition relative to guardianship. The case law is not clear as to what defines a person interested in a ward’s welfare. Clearly, the plain meaning of this language appears to encompass all persons who are genuinely concerned for and interested in the ward’s personal welfare. Can this include an insurance company that is attempting to mitigate losses and could care less about the well-being of the ward?
The insurance industry was successful in modifying the court rules to include a specific court rule related to the filing of conservator’s Annual Accounts. MCR 5.125(C)(6) now requires notice to PIP insurers for all Annual Accounts when the insurer “might be subject to financial obligations” as would be the case with a request for reimbursement of guardian and conservator related no fault expenses as set forth in Heinz v. Auto Club Ins.
There is no such requirement to serve PIP insurers for the filing of the Annual Report for guardianship estates. Although many PIP insurers will not pay for the legal expenses associated with the filing of an Annual Report unless a copy is provided to it.
It is critical that great care be taken before filing either Annual Reports or Annual Accounts. The PIP insurers are monitoring the contents to identify opportunities to reduce or cease the payment of No Fault benefits.
The Probate Pro can assist you in evaluating the most advantageous manner to address these important issues.