What are Michigan laws regarding probate litigation?

The administering of a loved one's estate can be a confusing thing, especially if probate is necessary. While the thought of probate litigation can be somewhat frightening, it usually only feels that way because people do not fully understand its purpose or how it works. To help ease some fears, this week's column will address Michigan probate laws.

Thankfully, in Michigan, not all estates are subject to the probate process. It may be avoided if one has a valid will and if property is appropriately designated to beneficiaries in wills, trusts, on individual accounts, or if joint property has a clause granting rights of survivorship -- among other things. If probate is deemed unnecessary, the executor will be able to distribute assets per the instructions included in the will or trust.

Sometimes probate cannot be avoided, such as when there is not a valid will, if there are questions about the validity of a will or if there are creditor claims or taxes that must be paid. In Michigan, there are two types of probate administration: small estate and formal administration. Small estate probate is for estates with values under $22,000; whereas, formal administration is for estates of higher values. Regardless of the type of probate to which an estate is subject, nothing can be distributed to beneficiaries until any issues with the estate are appropriately addressed.

Probate can take months or even years to complete, depending on the complexity of the estate's issues. While it is nice when probate litigation can be avoided, if it is necessary, it is something that, with assistance, can be completed swiftly and smoothly. Michigan residents can turn to experienced probate litigation attorneys to assist them through the probate process.

Source: FindLaw, "Michigan Probate Laws", Accessed on Jan. 4, 2017