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Understanding Michigan Probate: A Guide to Estate Settlement.

| Feb 28, 2024 | Probate

Probate is a legal process that ensures the orderly distribution of a deceased person’s assets and debts. In Michigan, probate plays a crucial role in administering estates. This article will provide you with an overview of Michigan probate, including what it is, when it’s required, and the steps involved.

What is Michigan Probate?

Michigan Probate is the legal process that oversees the distribution of a deceased person’s assets and the payment of their debts. The primary objectives of probate are to validate the deceased person’s will (if one exists), appoint a personal representative to manage the estate, ensure that creditors are paid, and distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries.

When is Probate Required?

  • If there is no will or there is no valid will, the person would have died intestate, and there is a high likelihood that their estate will go through probate.
  • Assets in the decedent’s sole name. If the deceased person’s assets are in their sole name, probate will be required to transfer ownership.
  • Claims from creditors. Probate is used to handle outstanding debts and claims against the estate.
  • Real property ownership. If the deceased owned property, there is a good chance that probate will be needed to transfer ownership.
  • Disputes and controversies. Probate can help resolve disputes or controversies about the estate or its administration.

What are the General Steps of Probate?

  • Filing a Petition. The process begins with the filing of a petition in the appropriate probate court. This petition typically asks the court to appoint a personal representative and initiate the probate proceedings.
  • Personal Representative Appointment. After validating the will (if one exists), the court appoints a personal representative to manage the estate.
  • Asset Inventory. The personal representative is responsible for creating an inventory of the deceased person’s assets and obtaining their values.
  • Debt Settlement. During probate, the personal representative must notify creditors and pay off valid claims. This may involve selling assets if necessary.
  • Beneficiary Notification. Beneficiaries and heirs are typically notified of the probate process, allowing them to raise any objections.
  • Distribution of Assets. Once debts and expenses are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the will or Michigan’s intestate succession laws.
  • Closing the Estate. After all the necessary tasks are completed, the personal representative petitions the court to close the estate.

Are there any Alternatives to Probate?

Yes. Michigan offers some alternatives to probate, such as small estate procedures and transfer-on-death deeds, which can simplify the process for small estates and specific types of assets.

Michigan probate is a structured legal process designed to ensure the orderly distribution of a deceased person’s assets and payment of their debts. While it can be complex, understanding the basics of Michigan probate can help individuals better navigate the process or seek legal advice when necessary. Planning ahead through estate planning tools like wills and trusts can also help simply or even eliminate probate for your loved ones.


Jesse Bergwerff