Page 31 - Heritage Life Story - MI
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Probate is a court supervised legal process that may be required after someone dies. Probate gives an interested person authority to gather the deceased’s assets, pay debts and taxes, and eventually transfer assets to the people who inherit them.
Will Probate Be Necessary?
Many people believe that by having a will they avoid probate. The will may make probate easier, but there must still be a probate of those items titled in the decedent’s name alone. Probate court proceedings are necessary only if the deceased person owned assets in his or her name alone.
Other assets can probably be transferred to their new owners without any probate court involvement. Examples of common assets that do not need to go through probate include:
• Assets the deceased person owned in joint tenancy form, which passes automatically to the surviving owner.
• Assets the deceased person owned with his or her spouse as “tenancy by the entirety” property, which pass to the surviving spouse without probate.
• Assets subject to a beneficiary designation – (example, retirement accounts with a named beneficiary and payable-on-death bank accounts)
• Life insurance proceeds that are payable to a named beneficiary.
• Assets held in trust (commonly a revocable living trust designed to avoid probate)
Simplified Probate for Small Estates and exceptions to probate
There are several statutes that allow for assets to pass to a decedent’s heirs without the necessity
of probate. These are exceptions to the general rule. See Courts/probate/exceptions to probate at for more information.
• A motor vehicle with a value of less than $60,000 may be transferred if there are no other assets requiring probate.
• A watercraft with a value of less than $100,000 may be transferred if there are no other assets requiring probate.
• Wages and fringe benefits in any amount may be delivered to heirs in order of priority as follows: surviving spouse, surviving children, surviving mother or father and surviving brother or sister.
• Cash not exceeding $500 held by a hospital, nursing home, morgue or law enforcement may be transferred with an affidavit if an estate is not pending.
• A simpler procedure for small estates of $20,000 or less as of 1/1/2009 (adjusted annually for inflation) that begins with filing form PC 556.
Michigan Probate

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