Understanding the probate and estate administration process can help you make important decisions about your will. In Michigan, specific requirements determine whether a will must go through probate, or court supervision, after you die.

Review the probate laws in Michigan as you begin the estate planning process.

Probate vs. nonprobate assets

Some assets do not require probate in Michigan. This category includes property you placed in a trust; life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or bank accounts for which you named a beneficiary; and assets you owned with someone else, such as the home you shared with your spouse. These assets transfer to the new owners when you die without court supervision. The state considers all other assets to be probate assets.

Simple probate

If the probate assets in your estate total $15,000 or less, your heirs can pursue simple probate in Michigan. With this process, each person simply completes a court affidavit to transfer ownership of the property he or she inherits. The person must also present the death certificate.

Formal probate

If you have a larger estate, Michigan requires formal probate. This process begins when your designated personal representative asks the court for permission to collect, inventory, value and distribute your estate assets. He or she will also seek permission to pay debts and taxes on behalf of the estate.

After probate begins, creditors have four months to file a claim against your estate. The entire process usually takes six months to a year unless one or more individuals contest the will. Careful estate planning can help your family avoid these issues.