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.

In some cases, the deceased may have appointed an estate administrator in his or her will. This is the person responsible for overseeing the division of property and all other matters concerning the estate. If an administrator is not named, the state will appoint one to handle the matters at hand.

The first step is gathering and sorting through the decedent’s property and assets. This may involve tracking down the property and assets, as well as placing a value on the property. Once all of the property has been collected, the estate administrator must take care of any remaining bills or expenses that the estate is responsible for. This may include past taxes, administration expenses, medical bills, funeral expenses and any money that is still owed to creditors.

Finally, the remaining estate property and assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will. If the decedent did not leave a will, the items may be divided according to Michigan’s law of intestate succession.

This information should be used for educational purposes and should not be taken as legal advice.