Probate

If you are currently in a situation where you’ll be dealing with the Michigan state court system in relation to a probate or estate related matter, or if you think that you will be in this kind of situation in the near future, it is important that you hire an attorney that knows the ins and outs of Michigan probate law.

Probate law has to do with the handling of an estate when someone, such as a family member or other loved one, passes away. These are the laws that make sure that the creditors are paid properly and that assets are distributed to the “heirs,” or the descendant. When you find yourself in a situation where you’ll be dealing with probate law, it’s a good idea to already have in mind what you are going to need to do.

What exactly is Probate? Probate is a legal process that begins with a “petition” (a request) to open the estate and name a personal representative who is responsible for the administration of the deceased’s property. The next step is when an official Notice of Creditors is printed in a local newspaper and Notice of Administration is sent to other involved parties. Creditors then have a set amount of time to file their claims from the first date of publication. Then the personal representative can pay the debt and distribute the remaining estate. Finally, a petition for discharge is filed, and the estate is closed.

While on one hand, this may sound simple, probate law and the handling of estates is in fact a complex system, which presents you with multiple requirements and tasks to be preformed by the personal representative, an experienced attorney and a tax consultant. For example, an estate including only a single house and single bank account that has been left to a single beneficiary will probably be a far easier and quicker process to deal with than an estate containing multiple houses that are located in various states, and that are left to multiple beneficiaries. This becomes especially difficult if an estate includes leaving assets to a minor.

The Probate Process

By The American Bar Association, Public Education

Probate is the court-supervised legal procedure that determines the validity of your will. It affects some, but not all aspects of your estate. Non-probate assets, like a life insurance policy, are paid directly to the beneficiary.

Upon your death, your will is filed with the probate court and its validity determined. All property, debts, and claims of the estate are inventoried and appraised. All valid claims of the estate are collected, and the remainder is distributed to beneficiaries according to the will.

What To Do When A Family Member Dies

This is probably the most critical time of the Probate process. At this point, your goal should be to locate the decedent's Will and marshal his or her assets to prevent any dissipation of the estate.