Michigan Probate Lawyer

Probate Law

Probate court is responsible for handling guardianships, conservatorships, wills and occasionally trusts. Trusts are only in probate court if there is a problem, such as a fight over a trust or a problem with interpreting the trust.

Probating A Will or When Someone Dies Without a Will

When someone passes away they become known as a decedent; after this occurs someone, usually a friend or family member, files a petition with the probate court to have the decedents’ estate opened. The petitioner is asking that a personal representative be put in charge of the decedent's probate estate. The court will then go through the process to have a personal representative appointed.

As a personal representative there are a lot of duties to handle including:

  • Gather an inventors of the decedent’s property
  • Settle the decedent’s debts
  • Distribute the decedent’s estate
  • Pay taxes of the decedent
  • Search for heirs of the decedent

When done correctly probate takes between nine and twelve months. Smaller estates can probate a lot faster.

Should I Hire A Probate Attorney?

Probate law touches on many different aspects of law; it is exceptionally technical and specialized. Probate attorneys will have knowledge of the following:

  • Real Estate Law
  • Probate Law
  • Tax Law
  • Family Law
  • Estate Planning Law
  • Business Law
  • Creditor Law

Sean J. Nichols, PLLC is dedicated to helping clients with probate. As a firm, this is why it is one of the three primary areas of law we focus on.

A probate attorney can take you through the whole probate of an estate or part of the process, through a limited retainer. Probate has a lot of forms that need to be addresses and each form has thousands of pages of cases and statutes behind it. Probate forms are created by the courts to make it easier to manage cases.

These forms do not cover the complicated parts of probate. Probate has a lot of deadlines and requirements that are not apparent from the forms and a personal representative can be personally liable if something goes wrong. Small mistakes can have big consequences and so it makes sense that a personal representative has an attorney.

Probate Court for Guardianships and Conservatorships

Probate courts are in charge of guardianships and conservatorships as well. When a loved one, friend or neighbor is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or mental illness there is always a concern that they will be a threat to themselves or those around them. These individuals are vulnerable and easily exploited. To avoid this from happening guardianship and conservatorships are put in place through the court.

Guardianship and conservatorship are the most powerful way to protect a loved one susceptible to this kind of danger. Guardianship and conservatorship proceedings are meant to have you or someone else placed in charge of your loved one, to protect them. Having an experienced and specialized probate lawyer dramatically increases your chances of success. When people try to do guardianships or conservatorships without a lawyer they have a lot of difficulty and can easily fail.

A guardian guards an individual and makes living, medical and other important decisions for a person who needs them. A conservator conserves the financial assets of the person needing conservatorship and makes all of the financial decisions.

Usually one person serves both responsibilities as the guardian and conservator though the court has been known to assign separate people to fill these important roles. There are many factors that weigh a judge will weigh before granting guardianship over your loved one including:

  • Family testimony
  • Testimony from caregivers
  • Medical/ financial history
  • Feedback from physicians assigned by the court

The decision to remove someone's right to make their own decisions is not a procedure that is taken lightly in court. To infer a person has become unfit to think for themselves is a major part of the court proceedings. This is followed by an equally critical decision to select the right person to serve as their guardian.