When is Probate Required?
Generally speaking, probate is only necessary when
a person dies leaving property in his or her 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 4 kinds of property which pass to a new owner on death without going through
probate. Note that personal representatives must file a letter of authority
annually and remit the inventory fee in the first year. If the letter is not updated annually the
case will be administratively closed. A
$100 fee will be required to reopen the case.
Read below to determine which type of estate would best suit your needs:
Unsupervised - Informal probate - permits the Personal
Representative (PR) to act in a manner independent of court intervention unless
supervision is requested by the PR 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, because there is less court
involvement, unsupervised administration offers some privacy for the decedent's family, as fewer details concerning the estate's administration will be in
the court file and available for inspection by the public and the media.
Supervised - Formal 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 will
authorizes the PR to do so), (ii) authorize the payment of PR and attorney
fees, (iii) review the PR's accounting of all receipts and disbursements, and
(iv) approve all distributions to heirs (people receiving property
from the estate if there is no will) and devisees (people receiving property
under a will). 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 PR and the other interested persons against
losses and claims.
Estate under $22,000 * - 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 and burial expenses; plus (2)
$22,000. Upon presentation of a petition and payment of the filing and inventory fee,
the probate court may order that the funeral and burial expenses be paid, if they have not
been paid, or that the person 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, no will is probated, and no personal representative is appointed.