When someone passes away, someone must handle the distribution of their assets and the payment of their debts. Probate is the name of the legal process of establishing the validity of a will so that the decedent’s estate can be disbursed. If you are serving as the personal representative (executor) of someone’s estate, you might be wondering how quickly after their death you must file probate.
Unlike some states, Michigan does not have a required filing deadline for a probate case. However, several factors can affect the timing of the process. Understanding these variables will help you feel better prepared to fulfill your fiduciary duties.
Is Probate Required in Michigan?
Furthermore, assets that meet any of the following conditions do not have to go through probate court:
- Jointly owned – If two spouses jointly own a home or any other property, it will pass directly to the surviving spouse.
- Beneficiary designations – If the decedent has listed a designated beneficiary for their retirement account, the account will go directly to that beneficiary.
- Michigan Living Trust – Assets held in a living trust are managed by the trustee.
How Do You Start Probate in Michigan?
To begin the probate process, you will first need to determine whether the decedent’s estate will require a formal or an informal probate proceeding.
Formal probate happens with large estates or if someone is contesting the decedent’s will. Some formal probate processes are supervised, meaning that any activities with consequences for the estate will require a judge’s approval.
Informal probates happen before a probate register rather than a judge.
Once you have determined which process the estate will require, you will file a petition with the Probate Court in the decedent’s county. Both types of probate can be time-consuming and complex. An experienced probate attorney can help you navigate the process effectively.
How Quickly Should I File?
Although Michigan does not stipulate a legal timeframe, filing a probate petition as soon as possible will be in everybody’s best interests. The probate process takes a minimum of five months in Michigan, but most probate cases take between six months and a full year. In contested cases, probate may take far longer.
Furthermore, if you do not file promptly, the decedent’s creditors can petition to open probate. Such a petition can make the process far more complex.
What if Someone Dies without a Will?
If the decedent has left behind no will, they are considered “intestate.” In such a scenario, the probate court will appoint a personal representative who will distribute the decedent’s assets according to Michigan law.
Do I Need a Michigan Probate Lawyer?
The probate process can be protracted, confusing, and stressful. If you are serving as the personal representative for an estate, an experienced probate lawyer will know what steps to take to move the process along. Their understanding of the legal nuances and complexities of probating an estate will help relieve any stress you have about the process.
Contact Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC
The experienced Macomb County probate lawyers at Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC have extensive experience helping clients through the probate process. Since establishing our firm in 1951, we have prided ourselves on our ability to provide our clients with the resources of a large firm while continuing to provide the individualized attention of a small firm.
Call us today at 586-776-1700 or contact us online for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.