Top Three Michigan Probate Myths

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.

Any questions? Give us a call at 313-291-0240.

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.

Picking The Personal Representative In Michigan

 

Pick Personal Representative

What is a Personal Representative?

The personal representative in Michigan, also known as an executor, is the person qualified by the probate court to administer the estate of a decedent. The personal representative hires the probate lawyer, signs all probate court documents, gathers assets, pays final bills, files final tax returns, and distributes any inheritance or property to the heirs and devisees. Think of the personal representative as the CEO of a business.

Who gets to be the Personal Representative?

Michigan’s probate code has a batting order for picking the Personal Representative. From first to last it starts with:

  • The person named in the decedent’s Will as the executor
  • The decedent’s surviving spouse if also receiving property in the Will
  • Any person who is to inherit property
  • The decedent’s surviving spouse
  • Any other heir
  • Someone nominated by a creditor of the decedent
  • A public administrator appointed by the court if there is no one else to do it

Do you have to serve as a Personal Representative?

Nope. You can decline and the person with the next highest priority will serve.

What if I don’t have priority?

You can serve as Personal Representative only if every single person with greater or equal priority agrees in writing. Please note, probate is driven by court approved court forms. I am not suggesting they can write a letter. It has to be on the right form and filed properly with the court.

Have more questions? Call us at 313-291-0240.

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.