Michigan Informal Probate
The Guide To Probate In Michigan

When you hear about an estate needing to go through Probate, you likely think of a prolonged court proceeding. However, this isn’t always the case. In Michigan, how long the Probate process takes depends on the type of Probate needed, Formal or Informal. Formal Probate is completed in front of a Probate Court judge after a petition is filed. Any decedent’s estate can go through this type of Probate, but it is not necessary for every situation. For a large majority of estates, it makes more sense to go through the Michigan Informal Probate process.

michigan informal probate

What Is Michigan Informal Probate?

The Michigan Informal Probate process is completed before a Probate register, so it is generally simpler and more cost-efficient than Formal Probate. Michigan Informal Probate can be thought of as an administrative process that does not require court oversight or formal hearings. 

When Can An Estate Go Through Informal Probate in Michigan?

An estate may go through Michigan Informal Probate if your loved one had a Will and no one is contesting whether or not it’s valid.

Can An Estate Still Go Through Michigan Informal Probate If There Was No Will?

Yes, an estate may also go through Michigan Informal Probate if your loved one did not have a Will and there is no dispute regarding who is legally allowed to inherit the estate. However, if there is a dispute over who should inherit the estate, then Formal Probate will more than likely be necessary.

Formal vs Informal Probate

There is no specific value required by Michigan law for an estate to go through Formal Probate versus Michigan Informal Probate. However, if an estate has a considerable amount of assets or complex assets, it may be easier to go through Formal Probate. If you are unsure if Formal or Informal Probate is suitable for your loved one’s estate, it is best to consult with an experienced Michigan Probate Lawyer.

Does A Small Estate Need to Go Through Michigan Informal Probate?

If an estate’s assets are worth less than $24,000 in total, the estate may not need to go through Michigan Informal Probate. Instead of going through Probate, a shorter streamlined process is available, known as a “small estate” proceeding. This process may be a simpler option, especially if the only heirs are a surviving spouse or children.

Who Can Open An Informal Probate In Michigan?

An interested party of the estate can open a Michigan Informal Probate by filing paperwork with the Probate Court register in the county where the decedent lived. An interested party is typically a family member of the deceased. A person who is named in the Will but is unrelated to the decedent may also open a Probate.

How Do You Open An Michigan Informal Probate?

Opening an Informal Probate in Michigan begins with an interested party filing an “Application for Informal Probate and/or Appointment of Personal Representative (Testate/Intestate)” with the county Probate Court register. The county you open Probate in depends on where the decedent lived when they passed away. Testate refers to a decedent who died with a valid Will, and intestate refers to someone who passed away without a Will.

Interested Person If A Will Exists

According to Michigan law, only an interested person may petition the court to open a Probate. If there is a Will, those who are interested parties are as follows:

  • Devisees: A “devisee” is a beneficiary of the estate
  • Nominated Trustee of a Trust
  • Heirs: An heir is an individual who is entitled to receive property from a decedent under Michigan Intestate Succession laws if the decedent died without a Will
  • Current Trust beneficiaries of a Trust under the Will
  • Nominated Personal Representative

Interested Person If A Will Exists

If there is no Will, those who may petition the court are as follows:

  • Heirs
  • Nominated Personal Representative
  • Trustee of a Revocable Living Trust

If the application and supporting documentation are filled out correctly, the Probate register will issue Letters of Authority for the Personal Representative and sign the Register’s Statement.

Who Can Be Appointed Personal Representative?

A person over the age of 18 may be appointed as the Personal Representative if they do not have a guardian or conservator appointed over them. According to Michigan law, there is an order of priority to those who would like to serve as Personal Representative:

  • The person appointed as Personal Representative in the Will
  • The surviving spouse if the spouse is a devisee in the Will
  • Other divisees in the Will
  • The surviving spouse
  • Other heirs
  • A creditor if no one is named after 42 days of the decedent’s death
  • The state or county administrator if no one is appointed within 42 days, and there are no descendants of the decedent

What Are Letters of Authority?

A Michigan Letter of Authority is a document assigned by the Probate Court naming the estate’s Personal Representative. The Personal Representative is responsible for managing the decedent’s estate, carrying out the decedent’s final wishes, locating and inventorying the decedent’s assets, paying debts and taxes, and making distributions. The Personal Representative must follow the decedent’s wishes as stated in their Will. If there was no Will, they must follow Michigan intestacy laws. As the Personal Representative, you are responsible for managing the estate, which is why banks or other financial institutions may request a copy of the Letters of Authority to make sure they are dealing with the estate’s legal representative. 

What Are The Steps Required To Close An Estate Through Informal Probate In Michigan?

For Michigan Informal Probate, the Personal Representative may close Probate after the estate is fully administered. To close Probate, the Personal Representative must file a Sworn Statement to Close Unsupervised Administration. Once the court accepts it, a Certificate of Completion will be issued, and the Personal Representative is discharged from their duties. There are a few steps required before fully closing the estate:

  • Prepare the inventory and pay the inventory fees
  • Pay any creditors and taxes
  • Pay remaining bills
  • Distribute assets appropriately 
  • If the estate is open for more than one year, file a Notice of Continued Administration
  • Lastly, file a Sworn Statement to Close Unsupervised Administration

The Sworn Statement must be served to all interested parties, and if there are no objections within 28 days, the court will issue a Certificate of Completion closing the estate.

Do You Need A Lawyer To Help You With Informal Probate In Michigan?

Michigan Informal Probate can be complex. An experienced Michigan Probate Lawyer can help you with the process to ensure everything goes smoothly. An attorney may be beneficial to the estate, especially because attorney fees are paid out of estate funds rather than out of your own pocket.

If you have questions about informal or formal probate or would like to consult with an attorney regarding your situation, please contact our office.

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