Experienced and Compassionate Guidance at a Difficult Time
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult and emotional, no matter the circumstances, and the responsibilities you face if you are the executor of an estate or a successor trustee, can feel overwhelming. There are things you must do immediately such as handling funeral or cremation arrangements, arranging for the care of any pets or dependents, obtaining death certificates and notifying the decedent’s current or former employer. Following those tasks, an executor or successor trustee is responsible for managing all the transactions related to the transfer of the decedent’s possessions and assets to the designated recipients. You will likely be required to make significant decisions regarding the distribution of objects and monetary assets and may have to deal with disagreements among heirs and beneficiaries. However, you do not need to face this work and responsibility alone. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can provide you with invaluable assistance by handling much of the work related to settling a will or trust, such as identifying and valuing assets, paying creditors, meeting filing and accounting deadlines, and managing a contested will or trust. Apex Law attorneys are experienced in all aspects of probate and trust administration and understand the stress and emotional burdens that often accompany the responsibility of settling an estate.
Below are three of the most common scenarios for estate settlement in Michigan. We would be happy to explain any of these items in more depth to help you better understand Michigan inheritance laws and obligations.
Probate (supervised or unsupervised) is the court supervised process of authenticating a will and giving legal authority to a named executor, referred to in Michigan as a personal representative, to act on the decedent’s behalf in settling his or her estate. Estate settlement includes identifying and valuing a decedent’s assets, paying any debts that are owed, preparing, filing, and paying taxes, and eventually transferring the assets to the inheritors according to the decedent’s will. Personal representatives often face complaints by the beneficiaries of an estate, which may escalate into lawsuits against the personal representative.
Note: Michigan requires probate court proceedings if a decedent owned any assets in Michigan in his or her name alone.
Trust Administration/Successor Trustee
Trust administration is the management and distribution of trust assets and income according to the terms of a trust and the Michigan Trust Code. An individual who creates a trust usually serves as his or her own trustee for as long as he or she is alive and capable of managing his or her affairs. However, upon that individual’s death or incapacitation, one or more successor trustees becomes responsible for carrying out the terms of the trust. In Michigan, settlement of a trust does not go through probate court as a will does; the successor trustee is responsible for carrying out the terms of the trust. Often trusts hold high value assets and complex financial assets, and the terms of a trust may require the creation and funding of sub-trusts.
Intestacy occurs when a person dies without a will. The probate court settles the estate by identifying the decedent’s heirs and distributing his or her assets, after the payment of the decedent’s debts or taxes, according to state law as specified in the Michigan Estates and Protected Individuals code. This code gives preference to a surviving spouse and then to children and parents. If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parent, the specific and complex law of the Michigan Estates and Protected Individual code determines the inheritance succession.
If you are facing the responsibilities of acting as a Personal Representative or Successor Trustee or dealing with issues related to a family member or loved one dying intestate, our experienced and caring attorneys can help you with the multiple requirements and legal issues you will need to manage. Often you must tackle these issues when you are already dealing with the emotional turmoil and stress of losing a loved one and the right attorney can make the experience much easier.
If you are not dealing with the immediate settlement of an estate, Apex lawyers can help you prepare to handle future responsibilities as efficiently and smoothly as possible. We can also provide experienced assistance in related issues such as guardianship, conservatorship, probate litigation and dispute resolution. At Apex Law you will always work with an experienced attorney and legal team, who will provide you with highly personal yet cost-conscious service.