Probate Process

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Probate Process

The probate process guides the distribution of an individual’s assets upon their death, and it varies considerably across states. Whether or not the person who has passed has a will in place plays a primary role in how probate proceeds. Regardless, however, probate is a complicated legal matter that can directly affect your rights as an heir, and having the skilled legal guidance of an experienced Michigan probate attorney is well-advised.

File the Will in Probate Court

In Michigan, the will must be filed in the probate court in the county in which the decedent – or the person whose will it is – lived. This begins the probate process.

Appoint a Personal Representative

The personal representative is someone who’s been appointed to oversee the probate process and the administration of the decedent’s estate. Their responsibilities include:

  • Gathering the decedent’s assets
  • Paying all related taxes and debts
  • Distributing the assets according to the decedent’s wishes

The personal representative is either named in the will or is appointed by the probate court.

Inventory & Appraise Property

The next step in the process is inventorying the decedent’s assets and having them appraised – as necessary. Depending upon the size of the estate, this can be a laborious and time-consuming process. Appraisals are often necessary for larger assets that will be sold to cover debt or that will be distributed among multiple beneficiaries.

When assets are held in trust or have beneficiaries attached, they avoid the probate process. For example, retirement accounts and life insurance policies are assets with beneficiary designations.

Settle Debts & Liabilities

At this point, all the decedent’s debts must be addressed. This includes each of the following:

  • Their outstanding bills
  • Their taxes
  • Their funeral and burial costs
  • Their general administrative expenses
  • Their creditors’ claims

Identify Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries refer to the person or people who are identified in the will as receiving specific assets. In those instances in which the person who has passed has no will or identifies no beneficiaries, the assets are distributed according to Michigan’s laws of intestacy.

Distribute Property

From here, the remaining assets are distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries according to their wishes. When beneficiaries aren’t named, Michigan law dictates that these assets flow to specific relatives.

Close the Estate

Once each step in the probate process is successfully addressed, the matter is finalized, and the estate can be closed. Only when an estate is valued at less than $15,000 can the probate process be completely avoided. In these instances, a simplified path forward is employed.

Reach Out to an Experienced Michigan Probate Attorney

Probate represents a complex legal matter that comes with a challenging emotional component. The accomplished Michigan probate attorneys at Aiello & Associates understand how difficult the probate process can be and have the experience, compassion, and keen legal insight to help not only smoothly guide the process but also protect your financial rights. For more information about how we can help, please don’t put off contacting us today.

If you are facing a tough legal issue, the decisions you make now can affect you for the rest of your life. That’s why it’s important to seek the help of an experienced and aggressive lawyer.
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