If you have proof, the first thing you need to do is to stop the bleeding. The Court rules and the Estate and Protected Individuals Code simplify the means for an interested by which you can do that. Under the relevant court rule, "the court may appoint a special fiduciary or enjoin a person subject to the court's jurisdiction under MCL 700.1309 on its own initiative, on the notice it directs, or without notice in its discretion.” MCL 700.1309, in pertinent part, provides as follows:
“Upon reliable information received from an interested person, county or state official, or other informed source, including the court's files, the court may enter an order in a proceeding to do either or both of the following:
(a) Appoint a special fiduciary to perform specified duties.
(b) Enjoin a person subject to the court's jurisdiction from conduct that presents an immediate risk of waste, unnecessary dissipation of an estate's or trust's property, or jeopardy to an interested person's interest."
So if you are an interest person, you can provide the court with reliable information, the court has the power to immediately appoint a special fiduciary and to order your cousin to not do anything that will dissipate the estate's assets.
If this is a real concern of yours, you should move on this quickly. Good luck.
Petition the court for appointment of a new executor.
None of the above information is intended to constitute legal advice; rather it is intended to give the consumer sufficient information to determine whether or not they should consult an attorney regarding their legal matter.
Take the information you have an file a motion in the court to remove him as the Personal Representative and have another individual appointed. Have statements/affidavits from parties not receiving information and the treasurer to support this and address what the concerns and lack of transparency and reporting issues are and the harm it is causing.
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It sounds like you have proof of your claims. If you do, then you can petition the court, as my colleagues have suggested. If you do not have proof and just want to force your cousin to open the books, you have a much tougher road. Your cousin is not required to do that, under the circumstances, short of a court order. You are entitled to an inventory of the estate, as well as an annual accounting. If the account shows that the assets have been squandered, your cousin could be personally liable for that. If there is a bond, that might provide some additional recourse.
Given your concerns, your best bet is to contact a probate attorney with your evidence and determine whether you have enough to warrant a petition.
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Among other remedies, here are two avenues that you may consider: 1) similar to the other lawyers' advice here on AVVO, you can bring a motion (provided that you have standing) to remove the cousin or alternatively provide an accounting of the estate assets (or both); or 2) If you are a minority shareholder, then you might bring a shareholder derivative suit or a action claiming minority shareholder oppression. The former is an action regarding his administration of the estate, the second is an action involving his management of the company and treatment of minority shareholders and depending on the facts may be adjudicated in different courts. It's possible that he is doing a fine job managing one and not the other, but probably not likely.
These are some ideas, but you would need to provide much more detail to develop a firm strategy. But you should act quick to preserve the company's business or estate assets. Give me a call if you need to hire a lawyer; if I can't help you, I can tell you who can.
Donald L. Katz
390 Park Street, Suite 222
Birmingham, Michigan 48009