Property Transferred Without Probate
Livingston County, MichiganCourtsProbate CourtProperty Transferred Without Probate

Property Transferred Without Probate

There are 4 kinds of property which pass to a new owner on death without going through probate. 
  1. Property which is owned by the decedent and another person as joint tenants with right of survivorship will pass automatically to the surviving joint owner without going through probate (except in the case of certain joint bank accounts which are established with another person who is to act as agent for the decedent). 
  2. Beneficiary designated properties (such as life insurance, pension benefits, and IRAs) are payable on death, without probate, to the beneficiary designated by the decedent (or, if none, as designated in the contract or plan itself).  
  3. Properties owned by a revocable trust do not go through probate but instead are disposed of after death in accordance with the instructions written into the trust document.  
  4. There are even some forms of property owned solely by the decedent which would otherwise require probate that are exempt in certain instances. Those notable exceptions include the following
  • Unpaid wages.  An employer in Michigan may pay the wages due a deceased employee to the employee's spouse, children, parents or siblings in that order unless the employee filed a request to the contrary with the employer. 
  • Cash up to $500 and wearing apparel. A hospital, convalescent or nursing home, morgue, or law enforcement agency in Michigan holding cash not exceeding $500 and wearing apparel of the decedent may deliver that property to the decedent's spouse, child, or parent who provides (i) suitable identification and (ii) an affidavit which states the person's relationship to the decedent and that there are no pending probate proceedings for the decedent's estate.
  • Travelers checks.  Most issuing companies (such as American Express) will redeem unused travelers checks following the death of the owner without requiring the appointment of a PR on submission of the checks, a death certificate, and an appropriate affidavit by the next of kin indicating to whom payment should be made. 
  • Motor vehicle transfers.  If the combined value of one or more of the decedent's motor vehicles does not exceed $60,000 and there are no probate proceedings for the decedent's estate, registration of title may be transferred by the Michigan Secretary of State to the surviving spouse or next of kin upon submitting a death certificate, an affidavit of kinship, the vehicle's certificate of title, and certain other Michigan Secretary of State documents.
  • Watercraft transfers.  If the combined value of all of the decedent's watercraft does not exceed $100,000, and there are no probate proceedings for the decedent's estate, registration of title may be transferred by the Michigan Secretary of State to the surviving spouse or next of kin upon submitting a death certificate, an affidavit of kinship, and the certificate of title for the watercraft. 
  • Income tax refund claims.  These may be collected without probate by filing IRS or Michigan form 1310.
  • Transfer by affidavit.  Personal property with a value not exceeding $15,000 may be transferred to a decedent’s successor by presenting a death certificate and an affidavit stating who is entitled to the property.