Probate Administration

Probate is the legal process that occurs after a person dies, whether they have left a valid Will or not. If the deceased – known as the decedent – has left a Will, any property and assets are distributed according to what the decedent’s wishes. If no Will has been left, state probate laws direct how all assets are distributed.

There are two types of probate in Michigan: Formal and informal. With both types, the administration may be supervised or unsupervised. Supervised probate involves more steps and will also limit the power of any appointed personal representative.

The Four Steps of Probate

In Michigan, there are four main steps to the probate court process:

  • Appointing a representative
  • Collating the decedent’s assets
  • Covering all expenses and outstanding bills: Funeral costs, any creditors, any due taxes, and all other expenses
  • Distribution of remaining assets

What Assets are Covered by Probate?

Probate will happen when the decedent has left property or assets that are solely in their name. Some examples of these are:

  • Any real estate owned individually by the decedent
  • Real estate co-owned as tenants in common
  • Stocks or bonds held by the decedent
  • Tangible assets of value such as vehicles, furniture, jewelry, etc.

Are Any Assets Not Covered by Probate?

Yes, some assets will not have to go through the probate process. Your Michigan Premier Law attorney will be able to advise you on what is covered by probate, and which assets can skip the process. Some examples of non-probate assets include:

  • Any property held in a revocable trust
  • Any policies (such as life insurance or retirement) that have a designated beneficiary
  • Bank accounts that have POD (payable on death) or TOD (transfer on death) clauses attached
  • Cash under $500
  • Real estate owned as joint tenants where there is a right of survivorship clause
  • Income tax refunds
  • Personal property up to the value of $15,000

What Happens if There is no Will?

If no Will is left, Michigan’s intestacy laws set out an order of inheritance to guide who will receive what. The priority will always go to any surviving spouse. If the decedent has no living parents or offspring, then the spouse will be the sole heir.

If there are any surviving parents or descendants, the spouse receives what is known as first share. This share is indexed annually to allow for any cost of living increases in the state. Where there is no surviving spouse, the descendants take priority. This can be a complicated area when there are several claimants to an estate, and the services of an attorney are always advised.

How Can We Help?

At Michigan Premier Law, we have assisted many clients with the probate process and with estate planning. We can help you with all aspects of estate administration including filing any federal or state estate tax returns. If you have been appointed as executor of an estate, we can also help you navigate the often complex legal hurdles involved.

If you are a beneficiary of a Will, or if you feel you have a claim on an estate where no Will was left, we can represent you in all aspects of that process. If you are looking to plan for the future, we can help your family avoid the probate process by putting together a good estate plan. To book an initial free appointment, please call us today at (248) 688-0045.

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Whether you face criminal charges, are contemplating divorce, or need to resolve a business dispute, you can find the advice and representation you need at Michigan Premier Law, P.C. Our Troy attorneys offer attentive support for every step of your case. We are committed to helping you avoid needless expenses and stress, and we will work to get you the results you need outside of a trial. If it is in your best interests, however, we will not hesitate to take your case to court: Our trial-tested lawyers have the skill and insight to fight hard for you.

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