If you are currently in a situation where you’ll be dealing with the Michigan state court system in relation to a probate or estate related matter, or if you think that you will be in this kind of situation in the near future, it is important that you hire an attorney that knows the ins and outs of Michigan probate law.
Probate law has to do with the handling of an estate when someone, such as a family member or other loved one, passes away. These are the laws that make sure that the creditors are paid properly and that assets are distributed to the “heirs,” or the descendant. When you find yourself in a situation where you’ll be dealing with probate law, it’s a good idea to already have in mind what you are going to need to do.
Probate is a legal process that begins with a “petition” (a request) to open the estate and name a personal representative. In order to act on behalf of the decedent and transfer assets pursuant to a will, a personal representative appointed. The personal representative will then be given letters of authority to act on the decedent’s behalf. The court will determine whether the estate will be unsupervised or supervised. The court may supervise an estate in order to make sure assets are being properly transferred.
The next step is when an official Notice of Creditors is printed in a local newspaper and Notice of Administration is sent to other involved parties. Creditors then have a set amount of time to file their claims from the first date of publication. Then the personal representative can pay the debt and distribute the remaining estate. Finally, a petition for discharge is filed, and the estate is closed.
While on one hand, this may sound simple, probate law and the handling of estates is in fact a complex system, which presents you with multiple requirements and tasks to be performed by the personal representative, an experienced attorney and a tax consultant. For example, an estate including only a single house and a single bank account that has been left to a single beneficiary will probably be a far easier and quicker process to deal with than an estate containing multiple houses that are located in various states, and that is left to multiple beneficiaries. This becomes especially difficult if an estate includes leaving assets to a minor.
To avoid the expenses and time restraints of probate, a trust may be utilized. Assets are transferred into the trust, and a trustee is named as the individual responsible for managing the assets for the beneficiaries. A trust has several benefits including minimizing estate taxes, shielding assets from potential creditors, preserving assets for your children until they are grown, and creating a pool of investments managed by a professional.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.
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