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My Loved One Passed Away… What Now?

| Feb 28, 2024 | Probate

Losing a loved one is one of the most challenging experiences in life. Even with preparation, saying goodbye creates an irreplaceable void. Although nothing can alleviate the pain, leaving thorough instructions for loved ones is one of the most valuable gifts you can give them.

The funeral home can assist you with many of the initial decisions; however, there is still work to be done after the funeral service is over. Once your loved one has passed away, it is important to notify all relevant parties, not only family members but also employers, co-workers, professional contacts, the social security office, banks, advisors, insurance companies, retirement benefit administrators, veterans affairs, and credit card companies, among others.

Once you have organized and conducted the funeral arrangements, the next step is to settle your loved one’s estate. This process can be lengthy, but tackling each task one by one can make it more manageable. The level of complexity involved will depend on the planning your loved one had done beforehand.

In Michigan, if a loved one passes away without an estate plan, such as a will or trust, they are considered to have died intestate. This means that the state’s intestacy laws will determine who, how, and when the deceased’s property will be distributed.

If your loved one passed away with a will, the Probate Court will utilize it as a guide to distribute their property following the terms of the will. Despite its usefulness, a will does not prevent probate; it merely supplies the court with a set of directives. It’s worth noting that while the deceased can dictate which beneficiaries receive what from their estate, they cannot create complex provisions involving future interests, like dividing assets based on age or setting limits on distributions for those challenged with managing their finances.

Finally, in the event that the deceased individual had a living trust, their family could potentially avoid the probate process altogether. A living trust is a versatile tool for estate planning, as it allows you to specify who will inherit your assets, when they will receive them, and how they will receive them. Additionally, a living trust enables you to establish conditions for the distribution of your assets, such as reaching a certain age or meeting specific milestones. Moreover, if you have a beneficiary who may struggle with managing finances or has an addiction, you can include requirements that must be met before any assets are distributed to them.

Administering a deceased estate under Michigan intestacy law can be complex, so it’s helpful to consult an attorney. At Parakletos Law, we provide comprehensive assistance and walk with you every step of the way.