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PROBATE

Probate, the court-supervised legal proceeding for carrying out the instructions of a will, can be complicated for many people. Those who have been named as personal representatives, for example, are responsible for managing and distributing the assets of the decedent. They also have a fiduciary duty to properly handle the estate assets and to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. When a person dies without a valid will in place, or disputes arise among the beneficiaries, the process can become even more complex.

At PB Legal Group, we provide probate and estate administration services to clients in and around the metro-Detroit area. We work closely with personal representatives and estate administrators by helping them navigate the rules and customs of the local probate courts.

WHAT IS A PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE?

A personal representative is someone who is designated in a will to manage and distribute assets to beneficiaries upon the testator’s (the person making the will) death. Generally, personal representatives are responsible for carrying out a number of duties, including:

  • Petitioning the probate court to validate the will
  • Notifying the rightful beneficiaries and heirs
  • Inventorying and appraising the estate assets
  • Paying the decedent’s debts to creditors
  • Filing the decedent’s final income taxes
  • Paying federal estate taxes, if applicable
  • Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries

Because a personal representative is considered to be a fiduciary, he or she is in a position of trust with the beneficiaries. In short, this individual must carry out his or her duties ethically and can be held liable for any mistakes or misdeeds.

LETTERS OF AUTHORITY

In order to initiate a probate proceeding, the personal representative must ask the probate court in the county in which the decedent lived to be appointed. After holding a hearing to verify that the designated individual is capable of acting as the personal representative, the court will issue what are known as Letters of Authority and officially open probate. In short, this document gives the personal representative the authority to undertake his or her duties.

PROBATE ASSETS

In Michigan, certain assets are considered non-probate assets, including:

  • Real property in which title is held jointly, with right of survivorship
  • Property held by a properly designed and funded living trust
  • Life insurance policies and retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries
  • Bank and investment accounts with pay-on-death (POD) designations

WE CAN HELP

Call Our Attorneys Today

A capable probate and estate administration attorney can help you navigate the process and avoid costly mistakes. At PB Legal Group, we provide clients with legal knowledge and skill and guide them through each step of the probate process.

Knowing that coping with the loss of a loved one is difficult, we provide our clients with compassion and reliable advice. If you have been designated the personal representative of a loved one’s estate, are a named beneficiary in a will, or have questions about the probate process, call our office today to set up a consultation or complete the contact form on our website.

QUESTIONS ABOUT A LEGAL ISSUE? ASK OUR EXPERTS.