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.
Being named as the executor of an estate requires trust. The person who creates an estate plan puts a lot of faith and confidence in this individual to distribute assets within the bounds of the prepared documents and state law.
Making the decision about who will be in charge of administering an estate can be tricky. Not only is it important to select an executor (or executors) who can be trusted, but it's also critical to make sure the designation is valid and the named individuals are up to the job.
Many people go their entire lives without ever having to be involved in the probate process. Nowadays people are living longer, which often has the unintended result of many people using up all of their assets prior to death, with nothing much of value to pass on to their heirs. And, as anyone familiar with previous posts here knows by now, there are still many people who don't have an estate plan, even though they probably should. All of these factors, combined with the relatively infrequent contact most people have with a probate court, can result in a bit of mystery surrounding probate, and especially probate administration.
It is quite understandable if Michigan residents have a lot of questions about the probate process. After all, anyone familiar with previous posts here knows that topics can range from the details of trusts to powers of attorney to long-term planning. With so many factors to consider during the planning stage, there is every reason for an estate planner to think about what will occur when the actual estate administration process begins.