This is the legal process to administer your estate and distribute your assets upon your death. Who your assets go to is determined by a will, if you left one, or according to Michigan’s intestacy laws. The court oversees the entire process to ensure that it is carried out according to the law.
Only certain assets are required to go through a probate court proceeding. Assets that have a joint owner, a designated beneficiary, or that are titled in the name of a trust will avoid probate. Your loved ones can also avoid probate for other assets by using appropriate transfer forms, for instance the Secretary of State has a transfer method for motor vehicles under a particular value.
Initially, for informal probate an application is filed with the county probate court. The court will appoint a personal representative to manage the estate. Interested parties, including beneficiaries and creditors, are notified about the probate proceedings. The personal representative compiles an inventory of the deceased’s assets, pays any debts, taxes, and administrative expenses from the assets of the estate, and accounts to the interested parties. Once all debts and expenses are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs according to the guidelines of the will or to the family members from Michigan intestacy law.
Probates can also be supervised, with more involvement from the court, where the judge would oversee each aspect. Probates can also be contested where the court must determine if an individual has a legitimate challenge to the proceedings.
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