Family Trust engenders litigation and fails to execute parents' intent
A Wayne County family ended up in the Court of Appeals after the surviving children--four brothers--could not resolve their dispute over their parents' assets. The problem originated in their initially-surviving mother's attempt to share her estate equally among the four brothers, after she had already placed title to some assets in various brothers' names, either as joint owners or as beneficiaries. After she died, the sons who enjoyed vested title refused to contribute all of the property back to the common estate for division. The excluded brothers filed suit, alleging fraud, conversion, interference with a trust relationship and abuse of fiduciary duty, but the Court of Appeals held that they could not establish the elements of any of these causes of action. The attorney who drew up her plans for testacy claimed that when she was warned of the need to re-title assets, the mother told him that "she trust[ed the boys] to do the right thing and to make sure my desires are carried out."