Sumner PC & Associates
Zealous Michigan Probate Attorneys Advocating for You
It is essential that you have competent legal representation from the onset of your case through litigation. A skilled Michigan probate lawyer can serve you through the process in a manner that carefully uses your time and resources. To learn more about how Sumner & Associates, PC can help you, contact us today.
Do You Need A Probate Attorney?
What Is Probate?The goal of probate is to dispose of the deceased person’s estate. Those steps may include:
- Proving that the will is valid
- Identifying property and assets owned by the deceased person
- Appraising property
- Paying taxes and debts incurred by the deceased person
- Distributing any remaining property owned by the deceased person
Probate Can Be Time-Consuming and Expensive
- Supervised Administration requires the review and approval of the activities of the estate by the probate court.
- Independent Administration does not have the intervention of the probate court unless requested by an interested person or the personal representative is bound to carry out the administration of the estate from its inception through the distribution of the assets to your heirs and closing the estate.
Understanding the Probate ProcessAfter a person dies, an executor is generally selected either by a will or by the court to handle the probate process and manage all property. One of the first tasks for the executor is to validate the will. This requires the executor to show signatures or provide witnesses proving that the will is valid and should be followed. The executor then must make a list of all property, assets, debts, etc. that are part of the estate. Also, relatives, creditors, and any potential beneficiaries must be notified of the death. If there is any real property or assets that need maintenance, the executor must take care of those items throughout the probate process. That would include paying any bills and taxes associated with the property. Real estate must be maintained until it is passed on to the proper beneficiary. This can take as little as a few months, or it may be a year-long process. If the estate includes any property like artwork or jewelry, the executor may have to have the property appraised. This is necessary for reporting purposes as well as taxation. In disposing of property, the executor may have to sell some assets to be distributed among beneficiaries. If the probate process takes a long time, the immediate family of the deceased may ask for the court to release short-term support funds from the estate. This may be necessary to handle immediate needs such as funeral and burial expenses. If the deceased person has children or pets, they may need financial support sooner than the probate process concludes. A Rochester Hills MI probate attorney can help the family determine of support funds are needed.
Simplified Probate Process for Small EstatesThe complex probate process is not necessary for all estates. If your loved one left certain kinds of property or a small estate, then you may be able to avoid some of the probate process. Michigan allows for simpler procedures if:
- The gross estate value is less than $15,000 (after funeral and burial costs); or
- The estate is only large enough to cover costs of the last illness and funeral, homestead allowance, family allowance, and minimal expenses.
What Assets Don’t Have to Go Through Probate?Additionally, there are some types of property that do not have to go through probate in Michigan, including:
- Assets held in joint tenancy (those which immediately pass possession upon death)
- Assets held with a spouse as tenancy by the entirety (those which pass to the surviving spouse immediately)
- Life insurance payable to a named beneficiary
- Assets that have a beneficiary designation (such as retirement accounts)
- Assets in a trust (often in a revocable living trust set up to avoid probate)