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Michigan Probate Lawyers Clarify the Difference Between Unsupervised and Supervised Probate

If you are responsible for probating a loved one’s estate, you’ll have many decisions to make to ensure that their final wishes are fulfilled. If a particular type of probate process is not specified in their will or ordered by a court, it will be up to you to decide whether the estate should be handled via a supervised or unsupervised probate process. This can be a lot to deal with, especially when coupled with the grief of losing a loved one.

Fortunately, you don’t have to determine if the estate should be supervised or unsupervised on your own. The experienced probate lawyers at Estate Planning & Elder Care Firm of Michigan are here to help. Our knowledgeable estate attorneys can help you understand the difference between supervised and unsupervised probate and provide you with the guidance you need throughout all of the necessary steps in the Michigan probate process.

Unsupervised and Supervised Probate Processes: How They Differ in Michigan

If you are responsible for probating a family member's Michigan estate, it’s important for you to clearly understand the differences between unsupervised and supervised probate so you can decide which type to file. Here are the key differences between these types of estates.

Unsupervised Probate

In unsupervised probate, the personal representative is responsible for administering the estate without direct court oversight. This type of probate is typically used when the estate is straightforward, and there are no disputes among heirs or creditors. This is the simpler and less costly way to probate an estate.

If you are the personal representative of your family member's estate and they had a will, it should specify whether you can file an unsupervised probate of their estate. If they died without a will, it will be up to you to decide whether to file an unsupervised or supervised probate.

Supervised Probate

Supervised probate involves court oversight of the probate process, with the court approving each step taken by the personal representative. It will most likely take longer and be more expensive to complete a supervised probate than one that is unsupervised. This is because the Michigan probate process requires a court hearing to obtain a judge's approval of most steps.

There are a number of reasons for an estate to be supervised instead of unsupervised. For example, the will may specify that the estate must be supervised, the court may order supervision for some reason, or an interested party may request a supervised probate due to concerns about the administration of the estate. Interested parties can include:

  • Heirs
  • Beneficiaries
  • Creditors

Step-by-Step: Unsupervised and Supervised MI Probate Estates

Both unsupervised and supervised probate follow similar steps, but supervised probate requires court approval at each stage of the probate process. While an unsupervised probate process may be less complicated than one that is supervised, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced probate lawyer throughout the probate process.

Regardless of supervision, the probate process is complex and involves many steps. A skilled attorney will help you navigate the process, which includes:

  • File a petition. As the personal representative, you must initiate the Michigan probate process by filing a petition with the probate court, along with the deceased individual's will (if one exists) and a death certificate. The petitions are different for unsupervised and supervised estates.
  • Obtain letters of authority. Once the petition is approved and you are officially appointed as the personal representative for the estate, you will receive letters of authority from the court granting you the legal authority to take necessary actions on behalf of the estate.
  • Identify estate assets. Once you have the authority to move forward, you will be required to determine what assets your loved one has and obtain control over them, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property.
  • File an inventory of assets. After the assets of the estate have been identified, you will need to file an inventory of the estate assets with the court.
  • Notify estate creditors. You will need to inform known creditors that the estate has been filed and publish a legal notice to creditors in a local newspaper (or the online equivalent) to alert any unknown creditors.
  • Pay estate debts. You are responsible for using estate funds to pay any estate debts.
  • Distribute assets to heirs. The next step is to distribute the remaining assets to your family member's heirs according to the terms of the will or, if your loved one did not have a will, Michigan's intestate succession laws. If necessary, you may need to sell some estate property, such as real estate and motor vehicles, before distributing assets.
  • Close the estate. Your final duty as the personal representative will be to file the final documents with the court to officially close the estate.

Our dedicated probate attorneys will work diligently on your behalf to probate your loved one's estate. Our team will help ensure that you properly fulfill your duties as the personal representative—including properly determining whether the estate should be supervised or unsupervised—and help you comply with Michigan’s probate laws and procedures as you work to fulfill your duties and transfer your family member's assets according to their wishes or Michigan's intestate succession laws.

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