The legal transfer of assets from a deceased person to their heirs and beneficiaries is a process called probate. It’s overseen by Michigan probate courts, and it applies to estates in which there is a will and those in which the deceased passed away intestate, or without a will. Probate can be a lengthy, complex process, especially in cases where the person who passed away had comprehensive assets or significant debt. Straightening everything out can take time.
How much time? The length of time it takes for an estate to go through probate depends on a few factors.
How Long Does it Take to Probate an Estate in Michigan?
The size of the estate is the most influential factor in the length of time it takes for probate. Michigan has a simplified probate process for very small estates. If everything is in order and filed on time and correctly, then the process may only take a couple of months.
Larger estates and those that do not qualify for expedited probate can take a minimum of seven months to process, assuming that everything is in order and certain statutory requirements are met. Any issues with the estate’s assets can cause a delay, meaning the process could take close to a year or longer, depending on what caused the delay.
The Steps of the Michigan Probate Process
Understanding the steps of Michigan probate can help you avoid costly delays or determine where the hold-up is. Unless the deceased has a very specific, structured estate plan, at least a portion of their estate will go through probate.
First is appointing an estate representative. If the deceased left a will, then the executor of the will serves as the personal representative. Otherwise, a representative is appointed by the probate court. A dispute between family members over who will serve as the personal representative in cases where there is no executor of a will can cause delays.
The estate representative has a weighty responsibility. They make decisions on behalf of the estate and act in the interest of the estate (not specific family members or heirs). If there is a will, they have to follow its terms. If there isn’t a will, then they must allocate assets per Michigan rules of inheritance.
If the estate representative fails to fulfill their fiduciary duty, any interested party in the estate can file a court action to force the representative to complete their duties or replace them.
If there is no will, then settling the estate can take a lot longer. First, the estate representative must identify all assets of the deceased and determine whether there is any debt. Then, they have to notify creditors who may have a claim against the estate. Once the estate’s debts are paid, the representative must identify heirs and inform them. The remainder of the state is divided among the heirs according to Michigan inheritance laws.
Any disputes about the allocation of assets can make the process take longer.
Do You Need Help With Michigan Probate?
Have you been named an executor of a will and aren’t sure where to start? Are you having difficulties getting your fair share of a family member’s estate? The estate planning attorneys at Bingham Legal Group can help you with your probate questions and develop an estate plan that fits your desires and financial goals.