Michigan Probate and Estate Litigation Lawyers
Legal Offices in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids
When you lose a loved one, managing finances, taking care of an estate and the accompanying emotional burdens can seem overwhelming. If you have been named an executor, or you are a beneficiary to an estate, you want to protect your rights and interests through the probate process.
At Willis Law, we work directly with clients to ensure a smooth journey as we guide executors through the probate administration process.
What Is Probate?
When a person dies, the estate is submitted to the probate court. If there is a will, the probate court confirms that the will is valid and oversees the administration of the estate by the executor. If there is no will — or the will is found invalid — the probate court often appoints an independent administrator who serves the same function as an executor.
Do All Assets Pass Through Probate?
The probate process will streamline how assets are distributed and ensure that the proper beneficiaries collect. All assets of an estate that do not automatically transfer at death are subject to probate. However, certain nonprobate assets can bypass the probate process, including:
- Proceeds from life insurance policies
- IRA accounts
- 401(k) accounts
- Other tax-deferred retirement plans
We can assist you in the creation of a will or trust, or we can help you confirm that your nonprobate assets have named beneficiaries, allowing the assets to avoid probate.
Advocacy for Executors
If you have been named an executor, it is important to protect your rights and avoid personal liability for any errors. The executor is responsible for the administration of the probate estate, including:
- Taking inventory of the estate assets
- Having the assets appraised
- Collecting all debts owed to the estate
- Paying all debts owed by the estate
- Filing and paying all taxes
- Distributing assets to the beneficiaries
The executor or trustee owes fiduciary duties to all interested parties and must act in the best interests of the estate. Any executor who mismanages estate assets and causes the estate to lose value can be held liable for these actions.
Representation for Estate Executors
If you are appointed as an executor or trustee, our attorneys can advise you in the fulfillment of your duties and represent you in the event of a conflict.
Our lawyers can also assist in the preservation of assets and represent you through tax planning filing as well as explore other opportunities to minimize the costs to an estate.
Representation for Estate Beneficiaries With Probate Disputes
Legal disputes may arise over wills, calling for a will contest lawsuit on behalf of a beneficiary. Additionally, we represent beneficiaries in litigation when fiduciary misconduct, fraud and misconduct by other beneficiaries are suspected, including trust litigation.
Experienced Probate Administration Attorneys
To learn more about our probate administration services, contact us online or call (888) 461-7744 today for a free initial consultation. We have office locations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Paw Paw.
Michael J. Willis J.D., C.P.A.
Shaun P. Willis J.D.
Frank D. Willis J.D.
Donald H. Smith
Mariko C. Willis
Samuel R. Gilbertson J.D.
Verelle Kirkwood J.D.
Kristyn Meylenberg J.D.