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What to know about the Michigan probate process

The death of a loved one will often lead to a lot of grief for family and friends. It can be difficult to focus on the future at this time, but, there are still important issues that need to be addressed. If the deceased had a will or other estate plan in place, it may be necessary to submit the information to the probate courts to start the probate process.

What is probate?

Stated simply, probate is the process by which a decedent’s final wishes are carried out. Courts in Michigan will grant the personal representative named in the estate planning documents the authority to start completing the required tasks. The personal representative is responsible for ensuring that all tasks are fulfilled throughout the entire process. All assets and debts are collected, and any property that remains after the debts are paid will be passed along to beneficiaries that are listed in the estate planning documents.

Probate may not be necessary in all cases. It will depend on exactly how the deceased’s estate was set up and the value of the property that the individual owned prior to passing away. Certain items, such as accounts that are payable on death or homes owned with another person, may pass without having to go through the process. There are many other types of property that will be exempted from probate, so it is important that those tasked with completing the deceased’s final wishes have a clear understanding of how to proceed.

What responsibilities does a personal representative have in Michigan?

A personal representative will have several duties that he or she must finish, and these will often vary depending upon the complexity of the estate. They will have to handle the deceased’s affairs, which may include keeping a business up and running while the process is pending.

They will need to give notice to any creditors that the debtor has passed away. They will also need to collect all of the assets that an individual owns. This could require the individual to have to analyze documents such as tax records to determine the amount of assets belonging to the estate.

Once all of this information has been collected, the personal representative will begin paying off some of the creditors. If certain assets need to be sold, the representative will need to complete that task as well. Once all debts have been addressed, the individual may then start to distribute anything leftover to the listed beneficiaries.

How can an experienced probate attorney help?

Many individuals would have no idea how to handle all of the responsibilities required of a personal representative. An experienced probate attorney can assist with all of the obligations that need to be carried out. This is especially important in estates involving significant assets, as often, there will be many delicate issues that need to be completed in a very short amount of time.

What happens when disputes arise during the proceedings?

The personal representative may need to make several important decisions during the probate process, and these must be made in the best interests of the estate. Some of the beneficiaries may disagree with the decisions, and could sue the representative because of their concerns. Others may contest various awards being made under the will or other estate planning documents, which could also lead to litigation. The resulting cases could significantly reduce the amount of the estate that is able to be passed along.

How you can efficiently complete the probate process

If you have questions about any of your responsibilities under Michigan law or wish to contest the way an estate is being handled, you should contact an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to assist you throughout the proceedings, and provide you with the guidance you need at this time.