In Michigan, estate issues are handled by the Probate Court. Probate cases are filed in the county where the person lived before they died. When someone dies leaving a smaller amount of property, two Probate Court procedures are common: a Small Estate or an Informal Proceeding.
The Small Estate process can be used when all of the person’s property is less than $22,000 after funeral and burial expenses have been paid and the person does not own any real property (land, home) to be transferred.
The Informal Proceedings process can be used when the person’s property is more than $22,000 or there is real property (land, home) to be transferred.
For Informal Proceedings the Probate Court will appoint a person who will be responsible for finding all the property, paying the bills of the person who died and transferring the remaining property to the heirs (Personal Representative). The Personal Representative can be named in a Will or if there is no Will, it is often someone close to the person who died and who is willing to be responsible for the estate. The Personal Representative is responsible for filing the paperwork required by the court and reporting to the court about the estate.
Letters of Authority
The Probate Court gives the Personal Representative Letters of Authority to allow the Personal Representative to handle the property and debts of the person who died including paying debts and transferring property.
Forms & Case Packets
- The Legal Assistance Center offers assistance with probate forms. Probate Court forms are available from the Office of the Clerk of the Probate Court for a fee.
- Michigan Legal Help offers articles and forms creation at no cost.
- The Grand Rapids Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service offers a 30 minute conference with a lawyer for $25. Call (616) 855-0273 for an appointment.
- Visit or call the Legal Assistance Center.