What Is Probate, and Why Do I Want to Avoid It in Michigan?

If you’ve been reading about estate planning, you have probably encountered the word “probate,” but may not be sure what probate is or why you should avoid it.

In this blog, the experienced estate and probate attorneys at Rutkowski Law Firm: Asset Protection & Estate Planning discuss what you need to know about probate. Our law firm’s mission is to help you plan for a happy and financially secure future for yourself and your family.

What Is Probate, and When Is It Required?

Probate is an estate administration process through the courts that manages the settlement of your debts, carrying out your will, and retitling your assets. When you write a will, your wealth does not automatically transfer to your loved ones after you die. Instead, a court probate hearing will verify your inheritance wishes before changing any titles.

Not every asset requires probate, though many do. In Michigan, the following items necessitate a probate hearing when titled to the deceased:

  • Cash amounts over $500
  • Personal property valued at over $15,000
  • Motor vehicles valued at over $60,000
  • Watercrafts valued at over $100,000

If the assets in the will are worth less than these amounts, you may be able to avoid probate. State law does not require probate for the following:

  • Trust assets, including a revocable, irrevocable, or living trust
  • Joint real estate property with right of survivorship
  • Life insurance earnings with a beneficiary
  • “Tenancy by the entirety” assets
  • Transfer-upon-death bank accounts
  • Retirement and insurance accounts that name a beneficiary

How Long Does Probate Take?

The biggest disadvantage for probate is how long the process takes. Usually, simple and smaller estates will take at least six or seven months to be settled. The larger the estate, the longer the probate process will last.

Overall, your heirs should plan for probate to take about a year. This can pose difficulties if your spouse or other beneficiaries are relying on an inheritance from you to pay their bills.

Is Probate a Complicated Process?

Probate is complicated, especially when dealing with many different assets. Typically, the probate attorney will need to complete the following steps:

  • Locate and file the will
  • File all of the legal probate documents
  • Evaluate the asset values
  • Find all beneficiaries or creditors who will receive assets or wealth
  • Pay the creditors
  • Obtain any life insurance benefits
  • Acquire all of the deceased’s physical property
  • Complete any tax returns and pay estate taxes
  • Secure all tax releases
  • Give designated property to the beneficiaries
  • Note these steps in legal writing and provide the documents to the beneficiaries and court

How Is Probate Settled With a Probate Attorney?

Your will should state the executor you have designated, who will carry out the probate process. The executor can hire a probate attorney to help them through all necessary legal services. They will settle the probate process by appraising all assets, tying up tax needs, releasing wealth to the appropriate people, and completing all legal documentation.

What Is The Best Way to Protect My Estate From Probate?

The first step to protecting your estate is to type “probate lawyer near me” into your search engine. An experienced estate attorney can walk you through the entire process, explain everything in simple terms, and ensure that you complete all legal steps.

If you are still in the estate planning process and wish for your loved ones to avoid probate entirely, you can opt to establish a trust. Trusts will place any of your assets that would require probate into the trust’s ownership by transferring titles. Upon your death, since the titles will no longer be in your name (but in the trust’s name), your designated beneficiaries will not have to go through probate to receive your assets.

Should I Look for a Probate Attorney Near Me?

Yes. You should seek legal advice from an estate attorney to assist you through planning the probate process. Probate is already tricky, time-consuming, and expensive, but a lawyer can help ensure that the process will be smooth, simple, and stress-free.

When deciding which lawyer to retain, you should consider their primary focus, experience level, probate knowledge, and client reviews. Rutkowski Law Firm: Asset Protection & Estate Planning is proud to have a 5-star Google rating. We appreciate receiving our clients’ recommendations based on the work we have done for them.

Rutkowski Law Firm | Asset Protection & Estate Planning: Protecting Everyone You Love and Everything You Own Through Thoughtful Estate Planning

Rutkowski Law Firm: Asset Protection & Estate Planning focuses exclusively on elder law, Medicaid, and estate planning. Our mission is to help you protect everyone you love and everything you own through thoughtful planning. Our virtual office uses Zoom, so you can meet with us from the comfort of your own home.

Call us today at (248) 792-9193, or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation. We have multiple office locations and serve clients throughout Michigan.


Copyright © 2022. Rutkowski Law Firm: Asset Protection & Estate Planning. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Rutkowski Law Firm: Asset Protection & Estate Planning
40950 Woodward Ave #130
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
(248) 792-9193

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