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Monday, December 13, 2021

Probate in Michigan

Probate is a legal process that is sometimes required after a person dies. During probate, the assets of a deceased person—called a decedent—are distributed to his or her heirs or beneficiaries. In addition, if a decedent has outstanding debts, the probate court will sell his or her assets to pay creditors what they are owed. In this article, we discuss the probate process in Michigan.

When is Probate Required?

In Michigan, probate is necessary when a person dies while owning property or assets that are listed under his or her name alone. If the decedent jointly owns certain property, it’s possible that the assets may transfer to the other owner without the involvement of the probate court. Although most property must go through probate, there are certain cases where probate isn’t required. Examples of assets that don’t have to go through the probate process include:

  • Life insurance policies that are payable to a certain beneficiary
  • Assets that are held within a trust
  • Bank account and retirement accounts that have a designated beneficiary payable-on-death
  • Property that is held in joint tenancy
  • Property that is jointly owned by the decedent’s spouse via tenancy by the entirety

Michigan Probate Process & Rules

The probate process in Michigan consists of the following steps:

  • Appoint a personal representative: An estate’s personal representative is responsible for gathering assets, paying all debts and taxes, and distributing property. The personal representative is named in the will or by the probate court.
  • Gather assets: After a personal representative has been appointed, he or she must gather, inventory, and safeguard the decedent’s assets. The personal representative also may have these items appraised if necessary.
  • Pay the bills: Next, all of the decedent’s taxes, debts, general administration expenses, funeral expenses, and creditors must be paid.
  • Distribute the remaining assets: Finally, the decedent’s remaining assets are distributed according to his or her will. If there is no will, the assets are distributed pursuant to state law.

Probate for Small Estates

For certain small estates, Michigan offers a simplified probate process. This applies even if the decedent left some property that was owned in his or her name alone. Simplified probate in Michigan is available if:

  • The value of the gross estate is less than $15,000 after funeral and burial costs are paid, or
  • The estate is big enough only to cover the expenses of the homestead allowance, the last illness and funeral, the family allowance, and certain other expenses.

Contact a Michigan Probate and Estate Administration Attorney

If you need assistance with the probate process in Michigan, you need an experienced probate and estate administration attorney on your side. At Keating Law, PLC, attorney Thomas Keating will utilize his over two decades of legal experience to help guide you and your family through the probate process. When you come to Keating Law, PLC, for assistance, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.


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