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An estate is all of the property and debts a person leaves when they die. When someone dies the legal process of paying their debts and giving their property to the people who will inherit it (heirs) is called probate. Some people make a written Will that spells out what they want done with their property and who they will ask take care of the probate process (personal representative). With someone dies without a Will, state law determines who will inherit.

Probate Court

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.

Small Estates

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.

Informal Proceedings

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.

Personal Representative

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.

For Informational Purposes Only:  This summary is provided for basic informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. For legal advice about your situation, you must talk to a lawyer.
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.
Additional Resources