How does the probate process work in Michigan?

When a person dies, probate is the court-supervised process by which the executor administers the deceased person’s estate. In Michigan, only certain assets are subject to the probate process. 

Whether you are planning your own estate or serving as executor for a loved one, explore the ins and outs of the Michigan probate process

Exempt assets 

Some types of property are exempt from probate under state law: 

  • Property held in a trust 
  • Life insurance accounts that have a named beneficiary 
  • Retirement and payable on death bank accounts with a named beneficiary 
  • Anything the deceased person owned together with a surviving spouse or another survivor 

Also, Michigan does not require probate for estates worth less than $15,000 with no real estate holdings. 

Formal probate 

Estates with non-exempt assets and/or real estate valued at more than $15,000 must go through formal probate. To start the process, the deceased person’s executor or personal representative must file a petition in the county where he or she lived. The court will grant the executor legal responsibility to: 

  • Notify the deceased person’s heirs of the estate. 
  • Provide public notice of the estate to potential creditors. 
  • Inventory assets owned by the deceased and establish value, with the help of professional appraisal if applicable. 
  • Pay debts, expenses and taxes the estate owes under Michigan law.  
  • Distribute assets according to the deceased person’s will, managing the transfer of ownership for these assets. 

Once the executor completes these steps, he or she must file a petition with the court to close the estate. At this point, the judge will review the steps taken by the executor and ensure that he or she properly administered the estate according to state law. 

During the probate process, the court will take steps to resolve disputes that arise with creditors and heirs. If these complications occur, it can extend the time required to settle the estate. Most Michigan probate cases last seven to 12 months.