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Probate Administration Archives

Order of succession in Michigan if you do not leave a will

You may assume that if you die without a will, your assets automatically go to your spouse and children. While there is some truth to this, Michigan has very specific rules for the distribution of your estate to your heirs, as well as definitions of who your heirs are. We at the Bingham Legal Group PC often provide legal information about state laws and inheritances.

Why probate may be preferable to joint accounts and ownership

Many people in Michigan may assume that probate is something to be avoided at all costs. By adding another person’s name to a property title or a bank account, they may be able to skip over that process. However, as Bankrate.com points out, there are dangers to sharing ownership of assets, particularly for people who are not spouses, even though the rights of survivorship can negate the need for a will or probate.

Ways to prevent sibling conflict during probate

Having substantial assets may cause a parent in Michigan to feel anxious over the way the children will deal with the news of who gets what in the estate plan. According to Forbes magazine, much of the potential for disputes over inheritance may be anticipated and addressed ahead of time.

Preparing the inventory

A person who has been named as the personal representative of an estate in Michigan has several duties after the death of the decedent, such as paying his or her debts and distributing assets to the beneficiaries. According to MichiganLegalHelp.org, one thing that has to be done before these other tasks can be undertaken is the preparation of an inventory of the estate.

Who pays the bills?

If your loved one has recently died, he or she may still have unfulfilled debts and obligations in Michigan. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these do not automatically pass to you, even though you are an heir or beneficiary. Not only that, you should not assume that you must use money from your family member’s accounts to pay the bills, and although there are some exceptions, such as joint debts, you typically also should not pay any debts with your own money.

Could the power of attorney you create be challenged?

A power of attorney can be created for several different purposes. You might need a limited POA for the sale of property for which you are unable to be present, or a medical POA in which a health care agent is appointed who can make decisions for your care if you should become incapacitated. A lawyer can make sure you have covered all the bases when an attorney-in-fact has been named and the document is drawn up, because a power of attorney may not be met with universal approval, especially by certain family members.

Using a life estate to avoid probate

When a person has a home or other real estate in Michigan that he or she is thinking about passing on to heirs, the number of ways to do this may seem confusing, and each has its own consequences. Naming the people who will inherit the property in a will is a common approach, and trusts are also frequently used to ensure that the probate process goes smoothly. Perhaps less well known is the transfer of the home or other property through a life estate.

What are the three steps of the probate process?

When a close friend or loved one passes away, they may leave behind an estate, including assets, property and other items the decedent accumulated during his or her lifetime. A will is often created, naming who the decedent wanted to leave the property and assets to. Before the estate can be divided to the beneficiaries, however, the property must go through the probate process.  According to the Michigan Bar Association, this process consists of three steps, which begin once a personal representative has been named.

Approaching the probate process properly

If you have recently lost a family member who was close to you, all sorts of challenges may lie ahead. Setting aside strong emotional pain and a sense of loss, you may find yourself facing other hurdles related to the estate. At the Bingham Legal Group, our law firm knows how crucial it is for families to work through the probate process appropriately in Detroit, and cities across the state of Michigan.

The myth of “avoiding probate”

When you and other Detroit residents are taking care of your estate planning, you may consider the best ways you might help your family members avoid disputes over who receives your heirlooms and other property. At the Bingham Legal Group PC, we have often heard clients ask how they can help their loved ones avoid probate. While it is understandable that you want to preserve family harmony, it is important to distinguish the differences between the normal probate process and an estate dispute.

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