Many Michigan residents have very little knowledge about what exactly happens to a person's estate after he or she dies. Probate administration, and the word "probate" in general, are commonly tossed around. But, the meaning of these terms may be unclear. Probate litigation is another spin on the term, and potential heirs and other interested parties would do well to understand its implications.
When a person's estate is being administered in probate, the process can be quite lengthy. Depending on the size of the decedent's estate and other factors, estate administration can last from several months to several years. The reason for the lengthy duration of the process is that many different things must be taken care of during probate administration. Many of these things are the responsibility of an estate administrator. For this reason, anyone asked to serve as the administrator of another's estate should understand what duties and obligations the role entails.
In Michigan, the term probate generally refers to the administration of the estate of a person who has died. The term generally encompasses the estate administration regardless of whether the deceased person had a will--and thus made his or her wishes regarding assets and property known--or did not have a will. However, having a will simplifies the probate process because assets and property previously owned by the deceased person will be distributed according to the will provisions as long as the will is deemed valid.
Aging and dying are not things that most Michigan residents like to think about, both because the future is so unknown and because planning for the end of your life is generally not pleasant. However, there are many different reasons that you should seek advice regarding estate planning and administration.
Probate is a word that refers to the process of estate administration after a person's death. The administration of the estate is carried out by someone named as the personal representative of the decedent. The representative may have been named in the decedent's will or a probate court may appoint an interested person as the estate administrator and personal representative.
Even for Michigan residents who own very little, the process of probate and estate administration can be difficult and complex for their surviving family members. Struggling through the process, fighting against third parties or those claiming rights to a portion of the estate, and attempting to resolve the deceased's affairs in a way that he or she would have wanted can be very emotionally difficult and draining for someone dealing with the recent loss of a loved one. When estate administration becomes difficult and overwhelming, relatives of the deceased may want to seek the advice and assistance of an experienced attorney.
Being named executor of an estate can be viewed as an honor. Given the importance of personal assets and property, it takes no small amount of trust to afford the powers of executorship to one or more people.
More and more, people are integrating their lives into the digital realm. Traditional print news is becoming a thing of the past, people can conduct banking without ever speaking to a teller and social relationships are built without face-to-face communication -- just to touch on a few examples. Not to mention the fact that blogs, such as this one, are a common means for providing information to a wide audience.
The process of estate planning can involve some rather difficult decisions. Not only do individuals consider the wide array of legal instruments available, but the actual process of selecting beneficiaries can be challenging.
American statesman Benjamin Franklin once mused, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Although these enduring words can apply to many situations in life, they are particularly relevant to the estate administration and probate process. Personal representatives, or executors, may have the best intentions at heart, but an honest mistake can have unintended and damaging consequences.