Movie fans in Michigan and beyond were shocked and saddened upon learning recently that “Black Panther” star, Chadwick Boseman, died after a hard-fought battle with colon cancer. Boseman had kept his condition private, and he also happens to have died without executing an estate plan. Cases like this often result in contested probate proceedings, where one or more parties challenge a petition filed by another person to be appointed as the administrator of an intestate estate, meaning the decedent did not leave a last will and testament.

Boseman’s surviving family members include both of his parents and his widow, Taylor Simone Ledward. Ledward has taken the proper legal steps to request that she be appointed administrator of her late husband’s estate. In most states, a surviving spouse typically has priority over others to serve in this capacity. An initial hearing is scheduled for the court to review Ledward’s petition.

If either of Boseman’s parents would want to try to convince the probate judge in question that there is a legitimate reason Boseman’s widow should not be appointed administrator to the estate, he or she could object to Ledward’s petition. In Boseman’s case, his estate is valued at nearly $1 million. The administrator of the estate would be responsible for addressing any creditor claims against the estate, as well as distribution of assets.

In Michigan and elsewhere, contested probate proceedings are often complicated. It is always best to rely on experienced legal representation, especially if the petitioner or objector in question has no legal background in probate and administration laws. An attorney well-versed on these issues can act as a personal advocate to protect a client’s interests in court and throughout settlement of the estate in question.