Decedent Estates

WHEN IS PROBATE REQUIRED?

Generally speaking, probate is only necessary when a person dies leaving property solely in their own name (such as a house titled only in the name of the decedent) or having rights to receive property (such as wrongful death claim or a debt owed to the decedent). However, not all property in which the decedent has an interest will be subject to probate. There are some kinds of property which can pass to a new owner on death without going through probate. Property Transferred without Probate

READ BELOW ABOUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ESTATES.  It is highly recommended that individuals seek the advice of a professional probate attorney.  Court staff cannot provide legal advice.

a. Unsupervised - Informal Probate/Formal Probate - permits the Personal Representative (PR) to act without supervision of the court unless intervention is requested by the Court, Personal Representative or an interested person (such as an unpaid creditor or an estate beneficiary). This form of administration is generally preferred unless there is a specific reason to request the court’s supervision of the estate. In addition, since there is less court involvement, fewer details concerning the estate's administration will be in the court file.   

b. Supervised probate - requires the probate court's review and approval of much of the estate activities. For example, in supervised administration the court would be required to (i) approve the sale of the decedent's real estate (unless the decedent's Last Will and Testament authorizes the Personal Representative to do so), (ii) authorize the payment of Personal Representative and attorney fees, (iii) review the Personal Representative's accounting of all receipts and disbursements, and (iv) prior approval of all distributions to heirs (people receiving property from the estate if there is no Last Will and Testament) and devisees (people receiving property under a Last Will and Testament). While the court's involvement frequently adds to the time and expense of administering an estate, the court's supervision will likely afford greater protection to the Personal Representative and the other interested persons against losses and claims in the estate.
 
c. Estate under $24,000 (Small Estate) - All of the real and personal property owned by the decedent has a total value equal to or less than the sum of the following: (1) the funeral expenses plus (2) $24,000. Upon presentation of a petition, payment of the filing fee and inventory fee, the probate court shall order that the funeral expenses be paid, if they have not been paid, or that the individual who paid them be reimbursed. The balance of the property will be assigned to the surviving spouse or, if none, to the decedent's heirs under Michigan's law of intestate succession.  No court hearing is held.  NOTE:  In this process, the terms of the Last Will and Testament of the decedent are not carried out.  (However, if the decedent had a Last Will and Testament, by Michigan law, the original Last Will and Testament must be filed with the Probate Court in the County the decedent was a resident, per MCL 700.2516).  See Small Estate Assignment for more information. 

This page last updated on 9/17/2021.