Probate is a court-managed proceeding wherein an individual’s assets are retitled and distributed after he or she passes away. These assets are distributed according to the decedent’s will, or if the person passed away without a will, according to what is known as the law of intestacy. The probate court will also become involved in cases where a person is incapacitated and has not created a power of attorney. In this situation, the court will decide who has the authority to make financial and medical decisions on the incapacitated person’s behalf.

Much of our practice is devoted to helping our clients avoid probate. However, families frequently hire us to help them with the probate and estate settlement process, as well as matters pertaining to guardianship and conservatorship.

Perhaps you are wondering what is involved in settling an estate? While no two estates are the same, a “typical” estate often requires the person handling the settlement to perform the following duties:

  • Locate and file the decedent’s will with the local court
  • File necessary documents with the court
  • Locate, inventory, close and transfer personal assets and accounts
  • Appraise the value of all assets
  • Notify all known creditors of the estate
  • Make payments to creditors and obtain creditor releases
  • Process and obtain any life insurance death benefits
  • Secure the decedent’s home and tangible personal property
  • File tax returns (federal and Michigan)
  • Pay estate taxes (if any) and final personal income taxes
  • Obtain tax releases and closing letters from the IRS, local courts and state taxing authorities
  • Make specific bequests, together with distributions, to beneficiaries.
  • Provide detailed accounting to the local court and beneficiaries

Accomplishing all of this is difficult enough without the added grief and stress that comes with losing a loved one. We can handle this process for you from beginning to end so that you and your family can focus on what is most important—coming to terms with your grief. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Trust Administration

There are many different types of trusts, capable of helping you accomplish a wide range of goals. However, for a trust to accomplish its objectives, it must properly funded and administered. The administration process typically involves filings with the IRS, state taxing authorities and the court, as well as notifying individuals impacted by the trust. Other responsibilities include settling creditor claims, opening bank accounts, paying the decedent’s final expenses, arranging for the sale of property and other assets, and more. These duties must all be performed while making sure that proper accounting practices are followed and providing this information to beneficiaries of the trust.

If you have been asked to serve as trustee and administer a trust, you should know that trustees are subject to severe legal and financial penalties for failing to administer the trust properly. We can explain the risks involved to you and guide you through the entire process. We can also work closely with your existing personal representatives and advisors to ensure the directives of the trust are handled properly. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your particular situation.

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