Michigan Probate Laws FAQ
Q. When is probate necessary in Michigan?
In the State of Michigan, probate is necessary when someone passes away while owning property or assets that are listed under their name alone. If the deceased individual has joint ownership over certain property, it’s possible the assets may be transferred to the other owner with little to no court involvement.
Although most property is required to go through probate, there are certain cases where probate isn’t necessary. Examples of assets that don’t need to go through this process include:
- Assets that are held within a trust (i.e Revocable Living Trust)
- Life insurance policies that are listed as payable to a certain beneficiary
- Retirement Accounts and other bank accounts that have a designated beneficiary payable-on-death (P.O.D)
- Property that’s co-owned by another individual via a Joint Tenancy form. This property automatically passes to the other named owner
- Property that’s jointly owned by the deceased person’s spouse per Tenancy by the Entirety Ownership
Q. How do you file for probate in Michigan?
In Michigan, probate is handled by the probate court in which the decedent resided in. Once you determine whether formal or informal probate is required, you must file a petition with the probate court to get the process started.
Q. How Long Does Probate Take?
Most probate cases take between seven months and one year. That timing depends on how quickly the personal representative is appointed.
Creditors and potential contestations also impact timing. Creditors have four months to file a claim. If someone contests the will, this can push the case past the year mark.
You can find more details on the length of probate in regards to creditors in Section 700.3801 of Michigan’s Legislature. According to Michigan law,
“Unless notice has already been given, upon appointment a personal representative shall publish, and a special personal representative may publish a notice as provided by supreme court rule notifying estate creditors to present their claims within 4 months after the date of the notice’s publication or be forever barred…” (Michigan Legislature, 1998, Section 700.3801 Notice of creditors.).”
Q. How Much Does Probate Cost?
The total costs of probate involve the probate court costs, appraisal fees, and executor fees. You will also have to consider attorney fees. However, hiring an attorney can help make the process faster and easier.
Q. Can Probate Be Avoided?
In the case that the estate is valued at less than $15,000, it’s possible to avoid probate and go through a simplified process. In this process, probate courts are involved either not at all or very little.
In addition to the simplified process exception for estates valued at less than $15,000, there are other property exceptions. These include:
- Insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
- Jointly owned property
- Trusts not established by a will
These exceptions will not have to go through probate court.
Q. Do I Need An Attorney?
While Michigan technically doesn’t require an attorney for all probate matters, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution. Even for straightforward cases when someone passed away with a solid estate plan, a probate lawyer can help ensure correct procedures are followed and avoid potential issues. These legal matters are important and should be treated as such.
On the other hand, certain probate cases absolutely require the assistance of an attorney. This includes cases involving: