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Jury questionnaire: Reminder that estate plans may avoid probate

When someone passes away without having a suitable will, his or her estate has to go through probate court for a suitable solution. In the case of contested wills and some other issues, a jury might be necessary to determine the outcome of the estate. Some Michigan residents might have received or might soon receive a jury questionnaire that might be used for jury duty in probate court.

Midland County residents who have a state identification card or driver's license have recently gone through a random selection process. Approximately 6,000 jury questionnaires have recently been sent out from the county. These questionnaires will be used to determine the suitability of residents for jury duty.

If you get one of these questionnaires, it means that you are being considered for the jury pool that will be used for cases during the fiscal year that starts at the beginning of October. Just because you get the questionnaire doesn't mean you have been chosen for jury duty. You must, however, return the completed form within 10 days of when you get it in the mail.

While some people might balk at having to serve on a jury, these panels are necessary to determine the outcome of cases. A jury in probate court might decide who to award certain assets to if those assets aren't covered in a will or if the will is being contested. This highlights the importance of having a suitable will and other estate planning documents so that your family won't have to let a jury decide how your assets should be divided among them.

Source: Midland Daily News, "Midland County sends out 6,000 jury questionnaires" No author given, May. 13, 2014

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