Trenton, MI asked in Estate Planning, Elder Law, Family Law and Probate for Michigan

Q: A secret trust was set up by my mother’scaretaker (CT) who has all of the POA and power. I am disinherited.

Mom has dementia, but she is coherent; very forgetful too. She currently lives in rehab center. Mom now wants me to inherit. However, she cannot advocate for that. I am banned ( but I snuck in twice). CT has mom’s ID. Anything I can do short of suing for guardianship?

2 Lawyer Answers
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: No. You would need to petition the probate court for guardian and conservatorship. If this caretaking has proper documentation in the form of a POA, you face a significant uphill battle.

You say you are banned from seeing your mother; By whom? And why? Depending on your answers, you're going to need to explain to a judge how and why you "snuck in", and if it was done against a proper order banning you, how it is that a judge can expect you to now obey orders if he or she makes you guardian.

Joseph  Dallo
Joseph Dallo
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Troy, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: In situations where there's a suspicion of undue influence or wrongdoing, especially involving caregivers and fiduciaries, several legal avenues might be available. Here's an outline of potential options in Michigan (as the jurisdictional context provided in prior questions was Michigan):

Challenge the Validity: If you believe the trust was created as a result of undue influence, duress, fraud, or if your mother lacked the mental capacity at the time of creation, you might challenge the validity of the trust in court.

Power of Attorney Abuse: If the caretaker (CT) misused their Power of Attorney (POA) to benefit themselves, it might be a breach of their fiduciary duty. In Michigan, as in many jurisdictions, agents under a POA owe a fiduciary duty to the principal (in this case, your mother). Misusing that power for personal gain can be grounds for legal action.

Report Financial Exploitation: Consider reporting suspicions of financial exploitation to the appropriate local authorities. Michigan's Adult Protective Services might be a starting point, especially if your mother was vulnerable.

Request Trust Information: As a potential heir or beneficiary, you might have the right to certain information about the trust. If denied, you could petition the court for a trust accounting or other related information.

Legal Counsel: Engage an estate or elder law attorney familiar with Michigan law. They can help evaluate the specific circumstances, gather evidence, and guide you through any legal proceedings.

Mediation or Settlement: Sometimes, disputes over estates or trusts can be resolved outside of court through mediation or negotiated settlements.

Remember, time can be of the essence in these situations. If you believe wrongdoing occurred, it's important to act promptly to protect potential rights and remedies.

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