I mentioned this article in a prior post. Something I wrote that was published in this month’s Michigan Bar Journal. If you haven’t seen it, and want to read it, click here: Best Practices for Family Exploitation Cases.
In Re Margaret Krum Trust is an unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals dealing with undue influence. [Click on the name to read the case.] This is a case that was handled by our firm. We represented the appellee.
Two sisters were cut out of their mother’s trust, and contested the validity of the document when their mother died. They originally pled undue influence and lack of capacity, but withdrew the incapacity claim after discovery was complete. Our client, the Trustee, brought a motion for summary disposition on the remaining claim of undue influence, and prevailed. The appeal was from that order.
In affirming the trial court, the COA addresses two points worth noting:
First, the COA says that the existence of a financial power of attorney nominating the alleged undue influencer as agent is sufficient to establish the element of a fiduciary relationship for the purpose of giving rise to the presumption of undue influence, even when there is no evidence that the nominated agent ever exercised any authority under the document.
Second, the COA holds that summary disposition can be granted in an undue influence case even when the presumption of undue influence has been established. This appears to be an accurate statement of the law, even though other panels of the COA have, at times, held otherwise.
If you read the case you will note that the COA deals with the issue of after discovered evidence in the context of a motion for reconsideration. Kind of an interesting twist in this case, if you’re looking for more.
And if you read the case you also learn that the scrivener of the contested document was our friend and colleague Danielle Streed. Thanks for your help in this matter Danielle.
Finally, our own Drummond Black did all the heavy lifting on the MSD and COA briefs. Thanks D. You’re the best!