Probate Law is the specialty area of law that deals with the disposition of a person's estate after they have passed away. This is always a difficult and trying time and at Michigan Lawyers & Attorneys we will be glad to help assist you in all areas of probating your loved one's will and estate.
There are several different types of probate, which vary depending on various circumstances such as the amount and value of the assets, debt and claims against the estate, the existence of a will or not and the specific type of family situation that exists. We can help you decide which type is best for you and then guide you through all the state and local legal requirements of the entire probate process.
Probate laws vary from state to state and Michigan has very specific probate procedures that have been enacted. In Michigan probates come under the jurisdiction of the probate courts, which are typically aligned along county lines. A petition to probate a will or administer an estate will be filed in the county in which the deceased person resided at the time of death.
Michigan's Estates and Protected Individuals Code ("EPIC") was enacted in April, 2000 and sets out three specific types of probate procedures for distributing assets from a deceased person's estates. These three probate types are: Informal, Formal and Supervised. Also, the probate court has the authority to appoint conservators over a person's assets.
The Informal Probate
In the Informal Probate process, the administering of the estate of the deceased is done without the involvement of a Probate Judge. This type of probate preserves privacy, as no information about assets are required to be filed with the court and it is usually the quickest, easiest and least expensive way to probate. Numerous papers are required to be filed with the court and interested persons must be notified and give consent for Informal Probate. Then, the Probate Register will check to make sure everything is in order and then will either accept or decline the request for informal probate. There is no appeal, so essentially if the request is denied, you must go into Formal Probate. This is why it is important to have a qualified attorney submit all the necessary paperwork for you if you seek Informal Probate.
Once approved for Informal Probate, the estate of the deceased will be administered either by the probate register, by the Personal Representative (executor) of the deceased, or an attorney representing the Personal Representative. All Interested Parties listed will be notified when the Informal Probate commences.
The Formal Probate
In a Formal Probate process the court oversees most aspects of the probate process. In other words, it is partially overseen and supervised by the court. Formal Probate is typically used when the court needs to make decisions on issues such as the validity of a will, who the decedent's legitimate legal heirs are and other issues or disputes that may come up.
There are more forms and paperwork requirements that must be filed with the court to begin a Formal Probate proceeding than an Informal Probate proceeding, and even more that may have to be filed later, depending on issues with assets or other matters that may arise during the proceedings. These papers must be filed and filed correctly.
It is highly advisable to have an experienced lawyer handle these filings to properly get them done and also to represent your interests and protect the Personal Representative and all the other heirs involved in the estate.
When the court has ordered a Supervised Probate it is essentially the same as a Formal Probate, however as the name implies, the court oversees all aspects of the probate until the estate is closed. Supervised Probate is filed for the same as Formal Probate, and again, you should have a qualified probate lawyer representing you in court to make sure everything is done properly, and to protect the interests of the Personal Representative and the heirs of the estate.
The Personal Representative of the Estate
The Personal Representative or "Executor" of the estate is usually appointed in deceased's will, if not, they will be appointed by the court or by statute. The Personal Representative has many rights and responsibilities which are spelled out in Michigan's EPIC statute. The Personal Representative has the huge responsibility of administering the estate and must know the power they have over the estate as well as all the duties and responsibilities involved.
In both a Formal and Informal Probate proceeding, a Personal Representative is assigned and is responsible for any and all Michigan estate taxes. The Personal Representative is also responsible for notifying creditors by publishing a Notice To Creditors form, which must be completed and sent to a local newspaper notifying creditors of the estate, and allowing creditors four months from the date of publication to submit claims against the estate or be forever barred from doing so.
If you have been appointed as a Personal Representative to administer someone's estate, expert legal advice is very important and we are here to give you the guidance and advice you need.
Please feel free to contact us today, so we can help give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have Michigan Lawyers & Attorneys representing and protecting your loved one's final wishes and going through the probate process will be as painless as possible and done with care and compassion.
Our Michigan office is centrally located in Berrien County, enabling our lawyers to serve clients throughout "Southwest Michigan", including St. Joseph, Stevensville, Benton Harbor, Bridgman, Baroda, and the surrounding areas.
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