Is probate a public process?

Preparing an estate plan involves revealing information about what you own. Some people are not very comfortable openly describing their possessions and who will inherit them in the future. However, if you make out a will and it is sent to a Michigan court after you die, your estate will go through probate, which is not a private process.

As explained by Forbes, when your estate goes through probate, it is a matter of public record. People can go through the records of a probate court to look up facts about your estate. Someone could learn how much your estate was worth. They can also learn about assets and property you owned and how you wanted your assets divided. And because so much about your estate is known, it makes it easier for family members or creditors to challenge your estate for ownership of assets they feel they deserve.

However, some families do not have problems with the public nature of probate. In fact, they actually prefer to have their estate plans made public record and to have their estate under court review so that the actions of the estate executor are under greater scrutiny. And with a probate court certifying title to the estate assets, it is harder for individuals to challenge who should rightfully own the assets.

The choice of a person or a family in Michigan to put their estate through probate proceedings is a deeply personal one. Those who prioritize privacy and want to avoid the expenses brought upon by probate may look for alternatives to probate like setting up a trust. Ultimately, decisions to avoid probate depend on the wishes and priorities of the people involved.

This article is written to educate readers on probate administration. It is not to be interpreted as legal advice.