Probating an Unsupervised Estate in Michigan

By Lee Carroll

Probate is the process of settling the estate of a deceased person, who is known as a decedent. In Michigan, unsupervised probate follows the same fundamental guidelines as supervised probate. Unsupervised probate allows the decedent’s personal representative to work without involving the court every step of the way. In many cases, probate is automatically unsupervised unless the personal representative or a concerned party files a request for court supervision.

Probate is the process of settling the estate of a deceased person, who is known as a decedent. In Michigan, unsupervised probate follows the same fundamental guidelines as supervised probate. Unsupervised probate allows the decedent’s personal representative to work without involving the court every step of the way. In many cases, probate is automatically unsupervised unless the personal representative or a concerned party files a request for court supervision.

Opening the Estate

The decedent’s family locates his will and files it with the appropriate Michigan probate court. The personal representative named in the will files with the court for appointment, pays the filing fee and, upon approval, is issued letters of authority for managing the decedent’s estate. The personal representative cannot act on behalf of the decedent until she receives letters of authority from the court. If there is no will, an interested party can petition the court for appointment. In the absence of a suitable representative among the decedent’s friends and family, unsupervised probate is unlikely.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Inventory of Assets

Letters of authority give the personal representative permission to obtain otherwise private information about the decedent’s affairs. She must take inventory of the decedent’s estate and catalog the items before anything else occurs. Items to inventory include safe deposit boxes, personal property within the decedent’s home, bank accounts, vehicles, real property, insurance policies and any other assets. The personal representative must not allow friends or family members to take property from the decedent’s home, even gifts that are enumerated and assigned to beneficiaries in the will. Distribution of gifts is the last step in settling the estate.

Notice to Creditors, Beneficiaries and Heirs

Formal notice to creditors is the responsibility of the personal representative. The notice informs the interested parties of the decedent’s death and allows them to produce valid claims against the estate. This is accomplished by direct contact with known creditors and supplemented by notice in a newspaper in the decedent’s home town.

Payment of Debts and Filing Taxes

Debt settlement is the highest priority in settling the estate. The personal representative gathers each debt and pays it from the assets of the decedent. In some cases, repayment of debts requires selling some of the decedent’s personal property. She should avoid selling property that has been named in the will as a gift to a beneficiary, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Property that falls outside of probate cannot usually be used to pay the debt, but there are exceptions in rare cases. Tax responsibilities include filing the decedent’s federal, Michigan state and city final taxes, estate taxes, business taxes and numerous others which very depending on the size of the estate. As with standard tax filing, most of the decedent’s taxes are due the first April after his death.

Distribution of Gifts and Remainder

After taxes are filed and debts are paid, gifts named in the will are given to the beneficiaries. If there are more assets left in the estate after distribution of gifts, the leftover is governed by the will's residuary clause. If the will does not address this, the Michigan laws of intestate succession come into play. Intestate succession laws give the order of priority for assigning the decedent’s assets to his family. The personal representative may hire an attorney to assist with excess asset distribution. In some cases, the decedent may not have family to receive gifts. Beneficiaries named in the will, but who are not relatives, have no claim to residual assets. Those assets become the property of the state of Michigan.

Accounting and Closing the Estate

After the estate is settled, the personal representative presents an accounting of the settlement to the probate court. She can then file a petition to close the estate. This is the only point where a Michigan probate court is involved with the facts and figures of settling an unsupervised estate. If the personal representative kept clear, organized records that show all debts paid, taxes filed and gifts distributed, the judge will close the estate and release the personal representative from her duties.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
What Actions Must an Executor Take Upon a Death in Utah?

References

Related articles

What Is the Legal Procedure After the Death of a Person Who Doesn't Leave a Will?

Less than half of Americans -- only 35 percent – had wills as of 2010, according to Forbes.com. Unsurprisingly, states must implement laws to address the estates of those who do not. These people are said to have died “intestate,” but their property must usually still pass through probate to transfer title to heirs. Someone must also pay the decedent’s debts, and probate takes care of this also. Probate without a will is very similar to probate with one, but it usually involves a little more court supervision.

What Are the Protocols of Executor of a Will in the State of Florida?

Probate is the process of winding up a deceased's financial responsibilities and transferring legal ownership of her property to new owners. An executor, called a personal representative in Florida, is appointed by the probate division of the Circuit Court to stand in for the deceased by paying creditors and taxes and distributing all personal and real property to the heirs named in the will, or as identified by state statute, in the event there is no will. All duties are detailed in Chapter 733, Florida Statutes, including ethical requirements by which the personal representative must abide.

What Does the Executor of a Will Do?

Being named as the executor of a person's will can be a great honor; as the individual chosen by the deceased to manage his affairs after death, the executor is generally a person the deceased trusted to carry out his last wishes. The executor of a will must exercise the utmost fiduciary care and diligence in administering the decedent's estate.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

What Is the Meaning of Settle Estate?

A Last Will and Testament contains instructions for the distribution of a person's assets, also referred to as the ...

Michigan Death Estate Settlement Procedures

When someone dies, her estate must be settled. The settlement process includes following the terms of the will, paying ...

What Are the Requirements for Settling an Inheritance?

The probate process is designed to determine the disposition of property left behind when someone dies. The local ...

What Does It Mean if a Will Has Been Probated?

Wills are often thought of as legal documents, but they do not become so until after the testator, or person who ...

Browse by category