Helping you cross the

legal finish line

Helping Michigan families navigate the probate process

If you’re considering executing an estate plan in Michigan or have recently laid a loved one to rest and are preparing to settle an estate, it is helpful to learn more about inheritance and estate administration laws. Complications often arise during this process, which can intensify the stress a grieving family already feels. Gaining a better understanding of the probate process may help you avoid legal problems. 

Probate may require that beneficiaries be located, property inventoried, and wills and other documents interpreted from a legal perspective. You can help minimize stress for your executor and loved ones by creating a detailed estate plan. If you are representing someone’s estate or are expecting an inheritance, it’s helpful to seek support from someone who has experience in the estate administration and probate system. 

Is there a valid last will and testament? 

Determining whether a decedent signed a valid last will and testament before death can help minimize stress when settling a loved one’s estate. If there is no will or a will exists that is not valid, a probate court judge will determine how to distribute assets. If a valid will exists, then the person designated as executor to the estate has the task of carrying out its instructions. 

Before the distribution of assets, one must pay all debts associated with an estate. This includes funeral expenses, taxes owed and any monies owed to creditors. Once all debts are satisfied, the court will distribute the remaining assets.  

The value of an estate determines probate process 

In Michigan, if a decedent’s estate is valued below a certain amount, it qualifies for an expedited probate process. In such a case, the state does not require a personal representative (executor). These rules apply for estates valued less than $22,000.  

Supervised versus unsupervised probate administration 

If a valid will exists, the person who signed it may (or may not) request supervised administration of the estate. When one has made this request, a probate judge will oversee the executor’s actions throughout the administration process. Even if the estate owner did not make the request, another party, such as an heir or creditor, can request supervised probate. 

On the other hand, unsupervised probate occurs if a judge has not determined a reason to supervise the administration process. The court’s representatives are still available to provide support and assistance to grieving families during unsupervised probate. However, an executor may act (distribute assets) without a court order.  

Never hesitate to reach out for legal support 

Whether an estate is small or of high net worth and complex, it’s comforting to know that you do not have to navigate the probate process alone. If you’re the estate representative, a beneficiary or other interested party, you may seek support to help resolve a particular issue at any time. Doing so often helps alleviate stress and lessen the time it takes to settle an estate.