While the importance of drafting a will can’t be overstated, there are incidents where the presence of a will does nothing to stop family disputes from unfolding after a death. This can be true especially between children after the death of a parent in Michigan. A recent will challenge is making news as the former mayor of the nation’s capital is caught up in a family dispute after the death of his mother.

The mother died at the age of 87. She had a will drafted 10 years before her passing. She had eight children who are now fighting in court over details of the will.

One area of strife comes from the fact that the mother stated she had seven children in one aspect of the will and included the eighth child in another part of the will, creating a discrepancy that has caused legal problems. Two of the daughters have filed petitions stating belongings of their mother were taken or given to people not named in the will, including jewelry and handbags. It was also stated that the mayor’s family took items from the home before the mayor’s siblings had a chance to claim items they may have wanted. The mayor believes mediation may put an end to the fight over the estate.  

When families are involved in a will challenge, the probate process and distribution of assets can take a great deal of time. Having a comprehensive, clear and accurate will in place can help minimize the chance of a will dispute among those left behind. Michigan families may also want to designate beneficiaries for specific items that may be of great interest to multiple family members to avoid mishaps during an emotional and difficult time.

Source: The Washington Post, “Family of former mayor Tony Williams in probate court over mother’s will“, Keith L. Alexander, May 17, 2015

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