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Experienced Probate Lawyers Explain How Long You Have to File Probate in Michigan and Share Top Reasons to Act Quickly

When a family member dies, it can be an overwhelming experience, and probating their estate may be the last thing you want to think about. However, if you are the executor of their estate, you must fulfill legal and fiduciary duties under Michigan law. Our experienced Howell and Clinton Township probate attorneys are here to explain the Michigan probate process and help guide you every step of the way.

The legal team at Estate Planning & Elder Care Firm of Michigan is here to answer your questions, work with you to file probate in a timely fashion, and guide you through the steps in the probate process. We will explain your options to you and help you avoid complications and disputes that could result in estate litigation.

How Long You Have to Begin the Michigan Probate Process

Losing a loved one is an emotionally challenging experience. If you have been appointed as the personal representative of their estate, it can seem overwhelming. However, as the personal representative, you have fiduciary and legal duties to the estate and your family member's heirs under Michigan law. Understanding how long you have to probate their estate is crucial.

Probate is the legal process of transferring a person's assets and property after their death according to their will or under Michigan intestate laws. Unlike many other states, Michigan does not have a strict deadline for filing for probate after someone passes away. However, it would be a mistake to delay filing a probate estate, as this could complicate the probate process and potentially cause heirs to receive less property and assets to which they otherwise would be entitled.

Six Reasons You Should File Probate Quickly in Michigan

Although there is no specific deadline in Michigan to probate an estate, this does not mean that you should not act quickly to complete the process. Acting promptly avoids potential complications and helps ensure smooth completion of the Michigan probate process. Here are six important reasons our experienced probate lawyers recommend filing probate without delay.

1. The Estate Continues to Owe More Expenses

If you delay starting probate proceedings, the estate may continue to accrue expenses such as property taxes, mortgage payments, maintenance costs, and other bills. Acting promptly allows you to address these financial obligations and prevent unnecessary debt accumulation. In addition, prompt probate filing can help prevent damage to the deceased individual’s home or other property, utilities being shut off, or property being repossessed.

2. Documents May Become Lost

Important documents related to the estate, such as wills, deeds, and financial records, may become misplaced or lost over time. Initiating probate proceedings promptly helps ensure that all necessary documentation is gathered and preserved quickly, reducing the risk of complications or disputes in the probate proceedings later on.

3. Assets Could Lose Value

Delaying probate could result in the deterioration or depreciation of estate assets. This is especially a risk if there are assets in the estate that require ongoing maintenance or management. By promptly initiating probate proceedings, you can safeguard the value of these assets and maximize their potential benefit to yourself and other beneficiaries receiving this property.

4. Other Beneficiaries Could Start the Probate

If you delay probate, other beneficiaries may take legal action to initiate the probate process themselves, claiming that you failed to fulfill your fiduciary and legal duties to the estate. This could lead to conflicts, delays, and additional expenses for the estate. By taking proactive steps to probate the estate promptly, you can maintain control and ensure that the process proceeds smoothly.

5. Creditors Could Take Legal Actions

Creditors have the right to pursue legal action to collect debts owed by your loved one’s estate. If you do not start probate proceedings quickly, they could begin mortgage foreclosure proceedings, shut off utilities, or repossess your loved one's car.

In some cases, creditors may petition the court to open the estate if probate proceedings are not initiated promptly. This can result in additional expenses, delays, and complications in the estate administration process. By initiating probate promptly, you can address creditor claims in an organized manner and protect the estate's assets.

6. The Probate Process Could Be More Complicated

Delaying probate can lead to complications such as missing documentation, unclear asset ownership, or disputes among beneficiaries. These issues can prolong the probate process, increase legal costs, and create unnecessary stress for all parties involved. By working with a Michigan probate lawyer and filing probate promptly, you can streamline the process and minimize the potential for litigation related to the probate proceedings.