Probate and estate administration are the processes through which estate assets are transferred after death. When probate avoidance planning has not been implemented prior to death, Michigan will require a probate court proceeding if the deceased was a Michigan resident or owned assets in Michigan. Michigan probate can be supervised or unsupervised. In an unsupervised probate, the appointed estate administrator manages assets, pays any debts, files required tax returns and various court documents, and distributes the estate assets. However, the court may at any time require the process be supervised (usually when someone expresses concern about the estate administration). In a supervised probate, every detail of the estate administration must be approved by the probate judge.
Because Michigan probate can be a lengthy, costly and public process, many people choose to avoid it. There are a number of legal strategies that will allow you to pass property to another person after death, without going through probate.
A properly drafted and funded trust will generally avoid probate. The trust need not be filed with the probate court. Nonetheless, there are still steps necessary to administer the trust: beneficiaries must be contacted; assets must be gathered, valued and managed; potential creditors must be notified; debts, taxes and final expenses must be paid; and, ultimately, any remaining income and assets must be distributed in compliance with the trust terms. Successor trustees often lack the time, resources or knowledge to personally administer the trust, and therefore may call upon legal, accounting and investment professionals for assistance. The Law Office of Jerry Reif can help your successor trustee(s) deal with the complexities of administering your trust. Please call our office and we'll be happy to schedule a consultation, whether or not our office has drafted the original trust.
There are three basic stages to estate and trust administration: Collection & Management, Payment of Expenses, and Asset Administration & Distribution. Follow the link below to Estate & Trust Administration: Successful Conclusions for an easy-to-understand presentation outlining the process. Feel free to use the integrated functions to print any page, bookmark it to return later, or forward a copy to your friends, family members or financial advisor.
Estate Planning is a Lifetime Process, not a one-time event. Though estate administration is the final stage in the process, a successful conclusion is dependent on proper completion of each of the preceding stages. Click here to learn more about the process of estate and trust administration.