How to Handle an Equitable Distribution of Property in Michigan

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“My Mother has been my father’s conservator & guardian for close to 6 years in the state of Michigan. He developed Dementia at a very young age and has been in long-term nursing facilities for this period of time. My mother exhausted over 90% of their liquid assets into his care costs. The only thing she has left is the house. Was she entitled to any percentage of their combined liquid assets? Can she sell the house to make-up the percentage that is owed to her?

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Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated!”

On divorce, property would be divided in Michigan according to “equitable distribution”. So if she was divorcing him, there may be an argument for shifting assets to make up for amounts that your father got over and above his equitable share. During marriage, spouses make decisions about use of marital property subject to their fiduciary duty to the other spouse. It seems like her decision was to spend money on his care, so it is unclear who she is getting a rebate from if they are staying married. If she is divorcing him, the Court will decide who gets what and either one of them may be entitled to a greater share of the marital assets. If this is a question about named beneficiaries in a will, your mother might make an argument that some of your father’s money was pre-spent and that your father did not have the amount that he willed away (in a will drafted prior to the onset of dementia). If there is no will, under Michigan intestate succession laws, Mother get the first $150,000 and half of the remainder of the estate which is otherwise divided between you and your siblings.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.