Understanding the Michigan Probate ProcessMost of us do not think about the term probate until there is a death in our lives.  This is because, in many instances, probate is the legal process which will be utilized to administer a person’s estate after they die.   While it may seem that probate is a straightforward matter, there can be complicating factors.  Here is what you need to know about the Michigan probate process:

What Does Probate Cover?

Essentially, probate is going to be used to carry out a deceased person’s wishes as stated in their will and also ensure that any of their remaining debts are satisfied from the estate.  If a person dies intestate, or without a will, the court will oversee the administration of their estate according to the law.   If an estate is under a specific value, it may not require probate.

What is the Probate Process?

  • If the decedent had a will, the document will include a named personal representative. The personal representative is responsible for letting the court know about the will.  If there is not a will, the probate court will appoint a representative.
  • The personal representative will have the authority to access the person’s estate and begin its administration. This typically starts with the representative taking inventory of the decedent’s debts and assets and creating a detailed list.
  • The decedent’s creditors will be placed on notice and have an opportunity to make claims against the estate for the debts owed to them. The probate court will consider these claims and decide whether to reject or accept them.
  • If a creditor claim is approved, they will be paid from the estate assets.
  • Once approved creditor claims are satisfied, beneficiaries can be paid.

How Long Does Probate Take?

Depending on the complexity of the estate, probate can take a few months or can last for years. When a relative or beneficiary decides to disagree with or contest a will, the process can end up taking a significant; period of time.  The more the parties disagree, the longer the process can take. Additionally, creditors have several months to file against the estate.

Probate can be an expensive process which reduces the amount available to beneficiaries.  The good news is that with careful estate planning, you can avoid probate and protect your assets.  Our office has attorneys who understand estate planning and can help you contemplate all of your options and preserve your estate. Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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