Three Michigan Probate Myths Explained
There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about probate in Michigan. I have heard them all and, while there is a grain in truth in some, they are rarely correct. These are the top three myths about probate that I hear all the time.
1. Wills avoid probate.
Nope. It’s the opposite. Wills guarantee probate. Consider a Last Will and Testament as an instruction letter to the Probate Court as to whom inherits your stuff. A Will also allows you to name who will be in charge of carrying out your final wishes (Personal Representative) and also allow you to name someone to care for your minor children (Guardian nomination). Every adult should have one.
2. Probate takes most of the assets
This isn’t true at all but there is a grain of truth. Probate Court charges a fee to open an Estate which is currently $150.00. At some point, the Personal Representative will file an Inventory listing all the property in the estate that needs to be administered. The Court charges a percentage of the value based on the inventory but it’s not very much at all. There are inventory calculators to quickly figure out the inventory filing fee. For example, an Estate valued at $500,000 will have a inventory fee of $863. That’s less than 1%. It’s actually .00173 which is much less than the dreaded, and incorrect, belief the Probate Court takes everything.
3. If you die without a Will, the State of Michigan takes everything.
This is also not true. If you die without a Will, then the State of Michigan has a default inheritance distribution plan that does not put Michigan at the top of the list. Basically, everything goes, in order of survivors, to your spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc. The State of Michigan will only receive property if there are no living family members which is quite rare.
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Chris McAvoy is a Michigan attorney who helps people with bankruptcy, family law, and estate planning. To find out more or set up an appointment, click here for contact info. Our attorneys help people in Taylor, Allen Park, Southgate, Lincoln Park, Riverview, Taylor, Trenton, Flat Rock, Wyandotte, Brownstown, Belleville, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Westland, Garden City, Canton and the Downriver, Michigan area.