No Will? There’s Still a Way: A Guide to Michigan’s Probate Laws
According to survey results, over half of the adult US population does not have a will.
Statistically, we are more likely to start drafting wills as we get older. However, in some cases, this does not happen, which can lead to a person passing away without a legal will. This is also termed dying intestate.
If this has happened to a family member of yours, do not panic.
Fortunately, there are provisions for you to carry out probate without a will. Read on to find out what these are, as well as how to go about starting the probate process.
What the Law Says
The probate law in Michigan states that the property of any person who dies intestate must be distributed amongst his or her surviving descendants and family members.
This means that all property that is not exempt from probate (some types of property such as life insurance is exempt) will go the closest family members of the deceased.
How It Works
Upon the opening of the probate process, the Michigan probate court will appoint a personal representative for the estate. This person will carry out the same duties that the executor would—had there been a will.
Once this is done the personal representative for the estate must first pay any creditors and remaining debts out of the estate. Once this is handled, the court can begin the process of distributing the estate.
Who the Estate Goes To
If the deceased was married, an initial amount of $150,000 off of the estate goes to the surviving spouse. If there is a child from both parents (the deceased and the surviving spouse) the spouse also gets half of the remaining balance and the rest is distributed to the child or children.
However, if the couple had no children, but the deceased had a child from another marriage, the spouse will only inherit $100,000 initially, and then half of the balance.
If there are no children, but there are surviving parents of the deceased, the spouse receives $150,000 and three-quarters of the remaining probate assets. The other quarter is distributed to the parent or parents.
If there are no surviving parents, and no children, the spouse inherits 100% of the estate.
If the deceased was unmarried and has no children, the estate is distributed to any surviving parents.
In this case, if neither parent is alive, the estate then goes in equal portions to siblings and possibly nieces and nephews of the deceased.
If no descendants exist, the estate goes to the state as per Michigan law.
What to Do
If your loved one has died without leaving a will, and you want to start carrying out the probate process, you will need to do the following:
- Evaluate the estate and check to see if you are eligible for a small estate probation exemption, in which case you will need to fill out a petition form
- If the estate is not eligible for probation exemption, you need to fill out the applicable probate forms and submit them at the probate court
From there you will need to follow the court’s direction.
Hiring an Attorney
Now you know what to do when someone dies without a will. However, if there are any obstacles or complications, it can be wise to seek the assistance of an attorney for probate court who can help you through the process of probate without a will.