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Michigan Probate Laws

Definition of Probate

The word “probate” is commonly used to refer to the legal process that happens after a person (the"decedent") dies, regardless of whether the person died with a valid will or without a valid will. If a decedent dies with a will, then their property is distributed according to the will. If a person dies without a will, then Michigan probate laws dictate how the decedent's assets are distributed.

The Probate Process in Michigan

There are four main steps involved for the probate court:

  1. Appointing a Personal Representative;
  2. Assembling all the decedents assets;
  3. Paying the bills (funeral expenses, creditors, taxes, and general administration expenses);
  4. Distributing any assets that are left over.

Types of Estate Administration

The process of administering the estate will vary depending on whether or not the decedent had a valid will and the type of probate administration the decedents estate will have to go through.In Michigan, if a decedent's estate is small enough, Michigan law allows the estate to be probated using an expedited process (summary administration) that does not require the appointment of a personal representative.

See Probate Court, State Probate Courts, Avoiding Probate, and Estate Taxes for more information.

Code Section MCL Chapter 700: Estates and Protected Individuals Code
Types of Probate Administration

Small Estate: (Summary Administration)

1. Fill out a petition (PDF) and pay the filing fee.

2. The estate must meet certain asset guidelines, i.e. be under $22,000.

Formal Administration (2 Types) - if estate is worth more than $22,000

1. Supervised Administration: requires the court to review and approve the actions of the personal representative.
2. Unsupervised Administration: the court is only involved at the beginning and the end unless requested by an interested person or the personal representative.

What Assets Go Through Probate?

Probate is only necessary when a person dies leaving property in his or her own name (such as a house titled only in the name of the
decedent) or having rights to receive property.

Examples: bank accounts in the decedents name with no co-owner and no beneficiary designation; real estate that is owned by the decedent individually; real estate that is co-owned as tenants in common; stocks and bonds in the decedent's name, tangible possessions such as clothing, jewelry, household furniture, and cars registered in the decedent's name only.

What Assets Skip Probate Entirely Property in a revocable trust, real estate owned as joint tenants with a right of survivorship, life insurance policies and retirement accounts with a designated beneficiary, bank accounts with payable upon death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) clause, cash up to $500, motor vehicles (if the value of the vehicle doesn't exceed $60,000 and there are no probate proceedings), watercrafts (if the value doesn't exceed $100,000 and there are no probate proceedings), income tax refunds, and personal property not exceeding $15,000.
Who Supervises and Decides Probate Cases? Michigan Probate Courts
Estate Taxes Michigan does not have a separate estate tax. The law changed as of January 1, 2005.
List of Forms

Probate forms from the Michigan Courts website

Need More Information About Michigan Probate Laws? Get in Touch with an Attorney Today

Michigan probate laws can be tricky. If you're trying to make sure that your hard-earned estate is distributed according to your wishes, it's important to speak with a professional. Consider contacting a local Michigan probate or estate administration attorney who can help you better understand the current Michigan laws.

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