It’s hard to begin the process of planning your Michigan estate if you’re not sure of all the relevant steps involved in administering that estate. While the topic of what will actually happen to your Will and other planning documents might seem most relevant to those who will be around to administer your estate once you’re no longer here, you can do them a great service by planning ahead in order to structure the most meaningful and efficient plan possible.
When most people think of Probate, they are thinking of going to court after someone has passed away to figure out where their stuff is going to go. Probate Administration is the legal process for how your final affairs are closed out after you pass away and involves a determination of how your property will be used to pay taxes and/or creditors and then distributed to beneficiaries.
For simple, uncontested probate process in Michigan there are four primary steps: (1) appointing someone to serve as the personal representative of the estate; (2) gathering and taking inventory of all of the estate’s assets; (3) paying out necessary bills, expenses and taxes from creditors and claimants; (4) and distributing any remaining assets to beneficiaries.
For smaller estates, modified and shortened probate procedures are available. But sometimes, once the personal representative has gathered all the necessary assets of the estate, the total value inside the estate is beyond what would qualify for what Michigan calls “summary administration.”
If you’re not sure what type of planning and procedures should apply to your individual estate in Michigan, a lawyer can help. Your attorney can discuss putting together an inventory of all of your assets and creating a plan to pass those on. In addition, a Michigan estate planning attorney can take it beyond simple estate questions and help you prepare for more complex issues that arise in the area of elder law, such as qualifying for Medicaid benefits or asset protection.
The truth is that once you sit down to evaluate your estate, you’re likely to realize it’s bigger than you anticipated. Once you know how your estate is valued, your lawyer can help you put together a plan to accomplish your goals and ensure that you have covered your bases when it comes to both estate planning and other elder law matters.