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Guidance Through the Probate Process

If you have been named or appointed the personal representative of a loved one's estate, you have various legal obligations to fulfill concerning the management of the decedent's assets. You are responsible for opening the estate, administering the property, and closing the estate. Although estate administration can be broken down into these three general steps, the entire process can be complex and overwhelming. A mistake at any stage can expose you to several liabilities. That is why it is necessary to have a knowledgeable lawyer guide you through the entire process.

At Willis Law, our Grand Rapids estate administration attorneys have extensive experience and are well-versed in the laws concerning these matters. We will help you understand your duties and protect your rights. We can address your concerns, answer your questions, and handle all legal issues to alleviate some of the additional stresses you may be under during this difficult time. Our team recognizes the complexities involved in these cases, and we will work to facilitate an effective and efficient estate administration.

To learn more about how Willis Law can help, contact us at (888) 461-7744 today.

What Is Estate Administration?

Estate administration is the legal process a decedent's estate must go through to validate a will, settle debts, and distribute assets. In Michigan, probate courts oversee these matters to ensure everything is handled according to law.

Estate administration involves the following steps:

  • Opening the estate: The decedent's personal representative is responsible for opening the estate, which requires filing a petition with the probate court.
  • Administering the estate: Various steps are involved in this part of the process. It includes locating assets, notifying creditors, paying debts, satisfying tax obligations, and distributing assets.
  • Closing the estate: The personal representative must wait 5 months after opening the estate before closing it. This ensures that all interested parties had sufficient time to make claims against the estate.

Willis Law has helped individuals and fiduciaries through the estate administration process and is thoroughly familiar with what needs to be done and when. We can clearly explain your duties as a personal representative and ensure that you provide proper notification to interested parties and adhere to required timeframes.

What Is Formal and Informal Probate?

In Michigan, estate administration may pass through a formal or informal probate process. The method you should pursue when settling an estate depends on the situation.

With formal probate, a probate judge oversees the entire process. Although this can provide added protection, it involves more steps that can increase the amount of time it takes to administer the estate. Formal probate is preferable for high-value or complex estates.

With informal probate, a probate register oversees the process. Fewer steps are involved, making it less time-consuming than formal probate. However, there are fewer safeguards.

When you turn to our estate administration lawyers in Grand Rapids, we will review your situation and help you make informed decisions about whether to proceed through formal or informal probate.

What Is Supervised and Unsupervised Probate?

Both formal or informal probate can be supervised or unsupervised. If it is supervised, a probate judge will oversee the process, and each step requires court review and approval. With unsupervised probate, the personal representative can move forward without prior approval.

Supervised probate is preferable when:

  • The estate is worth more than $22,000
  • Disputes may arise
  • The estate is large or complex

An interested party may petition for supervised or unsupervised probate at any time. Discuss your situation with Willis Law. Our team can provide advice and counsel about how to proceed with estate administration.

What Is Michigan Law Concerning Small Estate Administration?

If an estate is valued at less than $22,000, it may go through summary administration. This is a simplified process that allows the estate to avoid probate. It is generally less time-consuming and costly than formal or informal probate.

There are several considerations involving summary administration:

  • Asset division is determined by Michigan law, not the decedent's will
  • A probate judge will review and approve the division of real property
  • There is a 28-day waiting period before filing an affidavit of transfer for estates with no real property
  • Creditors can still collect on debts for up to 63 days after the assignment of property order was signed

If your loved one had a small estate, speak with our Grand Rapids estate administration attorneys about dividing assets without going through formal or informal probate.

Which Assets Can Avoid Probate?

Not all assets must go through probate.

Those that can avoid this process include:

  • Joint property: This includes such things as vehicles with more than one name on the title and joint bank accounts. In this situation, the property passes to the other owner.
  • Insurance policies, pensions, IRAs: Benefits from these types of accounts are distributed to the beneficiaries.
  • Property named in a trust: If the trust was not established by a will, assets will be distributed according to the document's terms.

Legal Help with Estate Administration in Grand Rapids

You have a lot to consider when settling a loved one's estate. At Willis Law, we are here to help understand the complexities of the process, avoid mistakes, and preserve assets.

Schedule a consultation with our estate administration lawyers in Grand Rapids by contacting us at (888) 461-7744.

Hear It From Our Clients 

The Opinions That Matter 
  • “I experienced great personal attention from Willis Law. Everyone was above competent. I don’t doubt the quality of legal counsel I received!”

    - Thomas F.
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  • “All things went smoothly and as expected. Very pleased with the resulting estate plan.”

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