Dearborn Probate Lawyer

Dearborn Probate Lawyer

What will happen to someone’s property when you die? The answer depends on whether they have an estate plan that directs where their assets should go or whether they die without a will. In either case, their estate will likely come under the jurisdiction of the probate court. If they have an estate plan, they will have elected someone to be their personal representative. If not, the court will appoint one. That person will be responsible for handling the estate before the probate court.

If you live in Dearborn, Michigan, and find that you’ve become the personal representative of someone’s estate, Bingham Legal Group PC can help. Our legal team has extensive experience with estate administration, and we can help make this complex and emotionally challenging process go as smoothly for you as possible. Bingham Legal Group PC serves St. Clair Shores and Dearborn, Michigan. If you have a probate issue that you need to have resolved, contact us today.

What Is Probate?

“Probate” is the legal process in which a person’s estate is handled after their passing. The probate court is the judicial body that determines whether the deceased’s will is valid. The probate court will appoint an administrator for the estate if the deceased did not make provision for one.

Before any property or assets can be distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries of the deceased, several other steps must be taken first. The deceased person’s assets must be inventoried and assessed. Their debts and any estate taxes must be paid. Finally, the administrator or personal representative must pay the beneficiaries or heirs their share of the remaining estate.

Is Probate Necessary?

Probate is not always required. Some assets transfer directly to the beneficiary without going through probate first:

  • A small estate consisting of personal property worth $15000 or less, upon presentation of an affidavit and a death certificate
  • Income tax refunds
  • Unpaid wages
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Property owned as part of a joint tenancy with right of survivorship
  • Property or assets owned by a revocable trust
  • Property such as life insurance or pension benefits with a designated beneficiary

Personal Representative

In Michigan, the “personal representative” is responsible for administering the estate. Their actions will include:

  • Inventorying and assessing the estate
  • Paying creditors out of the estate’s assets
  • Filing the appropriate paperwork
  • Paying the estate’s tax debts
  • Distributing assets to the beneficiaries

Under Michigan law, the person named in the will as the personal representative has priority over anyone else seeking to fulfill this role. If the deceased didn’t name a personal representative, or if this person is not able to fulfill the role, the court may appoint another personal representative. If people request to be appointed as the personal representative, the court is obliged to select them in this order if they are qualified:

  • The surviving spouse, assuming they are a devisee or beneficiary of the will
  • Other devisees
  • A surviving spouse who is not a devisee
  • Any other heirs
  • A creditor found suitable by the court after 42 days pass after the decedent’s death
  • The state or county administrator, after 63 days pass after the decedent’s death

Taking Inventory of Estate Assets

If probate is required, the first step in the process is to file the will with the probate court. Once the personal representative has done that, the next step is to inventory the assets. This means determining what property was owned by the deceased and getting access to that property. Several steps are involved:

  • Assembling the assets
  • Securing the assets or obtaining the authority needed to dispose of them
  • Valuation of the assets
  • Sorting of the assets

Settling Debts

The next step in the probate process is paying any outstanding debts of the deceased and their estate. Many types of debts may exist, including:

  • Final illness medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Debts, including credit card balances, personal loans, and business loans if the deceased was a sole proprietor of a business
  • Taxes, both unpaid federal income taxes and estate taxes, if applicable
  • Expenses for administering the estate

Paying the debts of the estate may leave little to distribute.

Asset Distribution

The final step in the probate process is the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. If the deceased had a valid will specifying the beneficiaries and what each of them should receive, then this step should go exactly as planned.

If there was no valid will, the deceased is considered to have died “intestate,” meaning that Michigan law outlines who is eligible to receive assets from the estate. Under this law, a surviving spouse gets the entirety of the estate if the decedent leaves no surviving descendant or parent. If all of the decedent’s descendants are also those of the spouse, then the spouse gets the first $150,000 of the estate plus half the remaining balance. If the decedent has no surviving descendants but does have a living parent, the spouse gets the first $150,000 of the estate and three-quarters of the balance of the estate.

The law contains additional directions for which parties can receive assets from the deceased’s estate if they had no will.

Probate Litigation

Not all wills are accepted as valid by everyone involved. If you are concerned that your loved one may have been pressured or deceived into creating a will that does not represent their wishes, or if you suspect that the will is fraudulent in any way, you have the right to challenge the will in court. If another heir is challenging the will and you believe the will to be legitimate, you also have the right to have your position considered by the court. A Dearborn, Michigan, probate lawyer like Bingham Legal Group PC can represent you whether you are challenging the will or seeking to defend it.

Why You Need a Probate Lawyer

Probate matters are too important to handle by yourself, especially when you are also dealing with grief over the loss of a loved one. The distribution of an estate is often a representation of the deceased’s last wishes.

The best thing you can do to help honor the deceased’s wishes is to seek out a skilled probate lawyer in your area. Contact Bingham Legal Group PC for help with probate or probate litigation. Serving Dearborn and St. Clair Shores, Michigan, Bingham Legal Group PC is the long-term partner you need for all kinds of probate and estate planning issues. Call us today at (248) 594-1919 for a confidential consultation.


Our offices are located at 30100 Telegraph Road, Suite 360, in Bingham Farms, MI.

To get to Bingham Legal Group PC:

From the North:
  1. Go down Telegraph Road.
  2. Keep going past 13 Mile Road.
  3. You’ll see 30100 Telegraph Road on your right after about 2 miles.
From the South:
  1. Head up Telegraph Road.
  2. After passing 12 Mile Road, continue straight.
  3. About 1 mile ahead, you’ll find 30100 Telegraph Road on your left.
From the East:
  1. Start by going west on 12 Mile Road.
  2. Turn left onto Telegraph Road, going south.
  3. About 1 mile down, you’ll find 30100 Telegraph Road on your right.
From the West:
  1. Begin by going east on 13 Mile Road.
  2. Turn right onto Telegraph Road, going south.
  3. Keep going past 13 Mile Road.
  4. After about 2 miles, you’ll see 30100 Telegraph Road on your right.