Estates

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Estates under $24,000
Estates over $24,000


When assets are under $24,000
There are several statutes that allow for assets owned by the decedent to pass to the decedent's heirs without the necessity of probate. These statutes are exceptions to the general rule as to when probate is required.

Motor Vehicles: Title to motor vehicles of a decedent may be transferred to the heirs by the Michigan Department of State if the total value of the vehicles does not exceed $60,000 and there are no other assets requiring probate. The Secretary of State must be furnished with proof of death of the registered owner and a certificate setting forth the fact that the applicant is the surviving husband or wife or the applicants are the heirs of the decedent. This is accomplished by filing the papers at the Secretary of State Office. MCL 257.236.

Watercraft:
Title to water craft of a decedent may be transferred to the heirs by the Michigan Department of State if the value is less than $100,000 and there are no other assets requiring probate. This is accomplished by filing the proper papers at the Secretary of State Office. MCL 324.80312.

Wages of Decedent: Wages or fringe benefits in any amount may be delivered to the heirs of the decedent in the following order of priority: surviving spouse, surviving children, surviving mother or father, and surviving sister or brother. MCL 408.480.

Personal Property at Hospital, Nursing Home, etc.: A hospital, convalescent or nursing home, morgue, or law enforcement agency holding cash not exceeding $500 and wearing apparel of a decedent may deliver the cash and wearing apparel to a person furnishing identification and an affidavit that the person is the spouse, child, or parent of the decedent and that an estate of the decedent is not pending. These documents are given to the person holding the property and are not filed with the probate court. MCL 700.3981

Income Tax Return: A person who has not been appointed as personal representative may file an income tax return for a decedent on IRS Form 1310 with a copy of the death certificate.

Petition & Order for Assignment (Probate Court Procedure) - Form PC 556:
Section 3982 of the Estates and Protected Individuals Code provides a simplified procedure for distributing small estates if the balance of the gross estate is under a threshold reviewed and adjusted annually. (See the top of page 2 for the current threshold.) The figure is determined by adding all assets of the decedent, less the amount of decedent’s funeral and burial expenses and any liens against any real estate.

Upon a showing of evidence, satisfactory to the court, that the decedent's funeral or burial expenses are unpaid or were paid by a person other than the estate, the court shall order that the property be first used to pay the unpaid funeral and burial expenses, or to reimburse the person that paid those expenses, and may order that the balance be turned over to the surviving spouse or, if there is not a spouse, to the decedent's heirs.

Other than a surviving spouse who qualifies for allowances under this act or minor children of the decedent, an heir who receives property through an order under this section is responsible, for 60 days from the date of the order, for any unsatisfied debt of the decedent up to the value of the property received through the order.

This procedure begins with the filing of a form titled Petition and Order for Assignment (PC 556). The filing fee is $25, plus $12 certified copy fee. There is also an inventory fee due, which is based on the value of the estate. A receipt showing the status of the funeral bill must be attached to the Petition. This whole procedure can usually be completed within a few days of the filing with the court.


When assets are over $24,000, or a personal appointment is needed: 
Forms filed in the County of Residence of the Decedent (from death certificate):
  1. Application for Informal Probate and/or Appointment of Personal Representative (PC 558) - filed by an ‘interested person’ as defined in statute and/or court rule
  2. Death Certificate
  3. Original Will and Codicil, if any
  4. Testimony to Identify Heirs (PC 565)
  5. Supplemental Testimony to Identify Nonheir Devisees (PC 566), if there are any devisees who are not heirs
  6. Acceptance of Appointment (PC 571)
  7. Other forms may be required, depending on circumstances
Filing Fee:
$175 filing fee + $12 for certified copy of Letters of Authority = $187 total

Priority for Appointment:
  1. Person nominated in will, if any
  2. Surviving spouse, if a devisee under the will
  3. Other devisees
  4. Surviving spouse
  5. Other heirs
  6. After 42 days after the decedent’s death, the nominee of a creditor
  7. State or county public administrator
  8. A person with priority under 2-5 above may nominate a qualified person to serve as personal representative, and that nominee has the priority of the nominator
Recommendation Regarding Attorney:
An attorney should be consulted and retained to handle probate proceedings, especially if there is real estate involved. Estates are almost always complicated