When a person dies, the property they own at death is referred to as their estate. In order to wind up that person’s affairs and transfer their property to the heirs, the estate generally needs to follow the probate court processes.
To administer an estate, a person needs to be appointed by the probate court. If the person dies testate, with a will, the will generally identify who will be the estate’s personal representative. If the person dies intestate, without a will, Michigan law identifies the priority for relatives to act as personal representative for the estate. Once appointed, the court will issue letters of authority so that the personal representative has authority to act.
Even when the decedent dies with a will giving guidance as to how to distribute their assets, it can still be difficult navigating the probate court processes. If there is no will, the court will need to appoint a personal representative to administer the estate.
However, not all assets are transferred through the probate process. Some assets such as retirement accounts or life insurance policies are payable directly to beneficiaries upon death. In some cases, property may be titled jointly, such as with real property, which also does not need to go through the probate process.
What does estate administration entail?
In order to administer the estate, a personal representative will need authority from the probate court which will issue letters of authority that allow a personal representative to act on behalf of the estate. Personal representatives have several duties and obligations in administering the estate such as:
- Identifying and collecting the estate’s assets;
- Inventorying all of the assets;
- Determining the … and paying those debts;
- Tax Returns;
- Distributing the assets pursuant to the decedent’s will or Michigan intestacy laws.
There are various requirements to properly administer an estate and it can be overwhelming and confusing for the legally uninitiated.
Our office is experienced in administering decedent estates and can ensure that all legal requirements are met and assist with any difficulties encountered in winding up your loved one’s estate. Please do not hesitate to contact us at (248) 676-1000 for assistance or should you have any questions.