Joseph P. Buttiglieri represented three sisters in a dispute regarding the application of Michigan’s “anti-lapse statute” to their great-uncle’s will. The uncle divided his estate into three shares and specified in his will that his two sisters and two nieces should share his estate equally. In the event that his sister predeceased him, the decedent specifically named her son, his nephew, to receive her share. Both the sister and her son failed to survive the decedent, leaving the son’s three daughters to assert that they should be granted the nephew’s share based on Michigan’s “anti-lapse statute” which prevents a decedent’s gift from lapsing. One of the decedent’s nieces and original heirs contended that the three great-nieces were excluded and that she was entitled to one half of the estate. She argued that the Will’s general survivorship requirements were sufficient evidence to indicate that the decedent did not want the anti-lapse statute to take effect. However, there was nothing in the will that expressly stated the anti-lapse statute should not apply if the named beneficiary didn’t survive. With reasonable doubt that the decedent intended to avoid application of the statute, the Court granted each great-niece a 1/9 share of the residue of the estate.
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