Sunday, March 14, 2010

Plan Ahead in Michigan - Estate Planning, Probate, Trusts and Wills

It's often not until someone close to us passes away or we are ourselves facing a terminal illness, that we start seriously thinking about what will happen to our assets when we die. This can be a scary thought, especially if we are not up to date with the laws in your state. Every state has unique laws regarding estate, probate, and will.

In most states it is advisable to consult an attorney specializing in estate, probate, and wills in your area. If you or your loved one reside in Michigan, attorneys specializing in estate planning, probate, trusts and wills, can help you by offering a unique, personalized financial strategy and enabling you to get all your affairs in order. Financial planning integrates all the financial areas in your life - for now and for later.

Michigan Probate Forms

There are several purposes behind a will. In Michigan there are several probate forms for use in estate planning and helping avoid the probate process. Here are the forms with a short description:

* The Application or Petition for Probate and/or Appointment of Personal Representative (Testate/Intestate) - typically the petitioner nominates themselves to be appointed the Personal Representative of the estate (if they are over 18 years old). Certain qualified persons have priority for appointment as Personal Representative.
* Testimony of Interested Persons,
* Supplemental Testimony of Interested Persons Testate Estate - this form is only filed when the decedent left a will and some of the devisees named in the will are not heirs.
* Acceptance of Appointment
* Letters of Authority for Personal Representative

There are two possible places to file these forms - probate court or the family division of the circuit court. Once the forms to start the probate process are filed, the court issues an Order of Formal Proceedings following a hearing, if necessary.

Estate Planning in Michigan

In Wayne County Michigan (Detroit) any estate greater than $19000 goes into probate. During probate creditors are allowed to make claims against the estate. If you are one of those that care about your loved ones future financial security then you'll realize the need for personalized financial planning and estate planning services to:

1. Preserve your assets
2. To ensure they are distributed according to your wishes
3. To enable your family to be financially secure
4. To reduce stress for your family
5. To ensure that your assets go to your family rather than in paying probate fees or taxes

Making a will, a living trust, power of attorney and an estate plan really is the best way of taking care of your family financially once you have gone.

Estate planning involves health care directives like a ''living will'' in case you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Safeguarding your legal and financial well being requires choosing an experienced estate planning attorney so that you have all the options available explained to you accurately and in a proper way.


One method of estate planning is a properly funded Trust that allows your estate to be transferred without probate. With no court involvement, the family suffers no financial loss from probate expenses. If the need for guardianship arises, it can get very expensive. Expensive probate guardianship proceedings can be eliminated or minimized by a trust and accompanying estate planning documents.


Making a last will and testament is another method of estate planning but the entire estate involved must be probated for a will to have legal effect. Still, this might be a better choice in Michigan because Michigan has a simplified probate process for small estates (under $100,000). You need a will for any property that doesn't make it into your Trust and you can use it to name a personal representative. Your personal representative, also known as ''executor'', is the party responsible who ensures that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death.

Find a Professional

Wills, probate, trusts, estate and financial planning in Michigan may seem complex, but if you want to have control over what happens to your assets when you pass on, then making a proper financial and estate plan in conjunction with an experienced probate attorney, will simplify everything for you, and more importantly - simplify things for your family.

Tracy Rice writes article for The site is devoted to providing families with the help and resources they need in the days and weeks after a loved one's death. The law can be tricky please don't hesitate to find appropriate legal help in these emotional and trying times.

Please follow this link for Legal Help with Probate Estate and Trust Administration in Michigan.

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