If you utilize a last will to state your final wishes, you name an executor or personal representative in the document. This is the person that will handle the estate administration tasks after you are gone. Under the laws of the state of Michigan, the executor is not allowed to act without court supervision. A will must be admitted to the probate court, and there are very specific rules that must be followed.
In some cases, a person will pass away without having a last will or any other estate planning document in place. This situation is called “intestacy.” Under these circumstances, the probate court would apply the intestacy succession laws of the state of Michigan to distribute assets that comprise the estate of the deceased individual.
The probate court serves other functions as well. A significant percentage of elders become unable to handle their own affairs at some point in time due to mental incapacitation. Under these circumstances, the probate court could appoint a conservator and/or a guardian. The guardian would be empowered to make personal decisions on behalf of the incapacitated adult, and the conservator would handle his or her financial affairs. Of course, in some instances, a child will need a guardian, and the probate court would oversee this type of situation.
This is a basic overview of the probate process, but there are additional resources available if you are interested in the subject for one reason or another. The American Bar Association is a private organization that formulates guidelines for members of the legal profession. They have a great deal of very valuable information on their website. If you would like to learn everything there is know about probate, you can visit the following page: The Probate Process.
We practice law in Macomb County, Michigan. The probate courthouse in our area is located at 21850 Dunham Road in Mount Clemens. Their phone number for estate matters is 586-469-5290, and the department that handles mental health issues can be reached at 586-469-5320. They maintain a very useful website, and you can click this link if you would like to explore it. There is another section of their site that contains all of the different forms that you may need to initiate a probate matter. This is the link to that page: Macomb County Probate Forms.
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The resources that we have shared here are all very useful if you are handling things on your own. However, estate planning matters and guardianship and conservatorship situations are very serious. It is not a good idea to interact with the probate court without the appropriate legal counsel. Plus, when it comes to estate planning, you do not necessarily have to use a last will that must be admitted to probate. If you were to choose a living trust instead, assets could be distributed to the beneficiaries outside of the probate process.
If you would like to discuss any type of probate matter with a knowledgeable member of our firm, we would be more than glad to help. You can schedule a consultation right now if you give us a call at 586-493-7661. There is also a contact page on this website that you can utilize if you would prefer to send us a message electronically.