Probate Court Detroit MI | What to Know Before You Go – Part 2

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Welcome back to part two on our discussion on things you should know before you go to probate court in Detroit.

Click below if you missed part one:

Probate Court Detroit MI | What to Know Before You Go

Let’s finish up.


What Kind of Fees Will You Have If You Avoid Probate Court?


Even if you avoid probate court, you might still end up needing an attorney.

Good question.  It depends on the situation.

If you avoid probate court, you’re definitely not going to spend as much as you would’ve spent if you went to probate court, but again it all depends on your situation.

You might still need a lawyer to help with the managing of the trust, or to help with preparing tax returns and asset transfers.


What Kind of Items Cannot Be Transferred in Probate?

Well for starters, the only items that can be transferred to someone, are items that belonged to the deceased person alone.

If they have a spouse that’s still living, everything just goes to the surviving spouse.

Retirement accounts, and other investments (including life insurance payouts) where the deceased named someone as a beneficiary are exempt from going through probate.

Those items just go to the person named as the beneficiary.

Assets that the deceased put in a revocable living trust are exempt as well.


What if the Deceased Person Didn’t Own Much?

If what’s left-over (aka gross estate) in the estate after funeral and related costs are paid is valued at less than $15,000, the state of Michigan has a separate probate process available that’s a lot simpler than the normal one.

In these instances, even if there’s not a will in-place, there’s a good chance that the court will just award everything over to the heirs of the estate, or the surviving spouse.


What if Nothing’s Left After Funeral and Related Costs are Paid?

At this point, you might be asking, “Well, what if zero is left, after funeral and related costs are paid?”

To that, I say, “Great question; I’m not sure.”

Note: If any probate attorney’s happen to read this, feel free to share an answer to this question in the comments at the bottom of the page, and I’ll update this post with that info.


“Certification From the Heir to a Vehicle”

“Certification From the Heir to a Vehicle” allows a family member to take over the ownership of a deceased relative’s vehicles, under the proper circumstances. (Image: Big C Harvey)

With this form, the closest relative can get granted ownership of the vehicle(s), again, as long as the combined value is less than $60k.

You can get this form from the the Department of Motor Vehicles.


Testate vs. Intestate

You might see these terms thrown-around, but don’t be intimidated.

Testate simply means that the deceased passed-away with a will in-place, and Intestate means that they didn’t.


What if There’s No Will?

As I just mentioned, if a person dies without a will, this called dying “intestate.”

As I just mentioned above, when this happens, the state will appoint a Personal Representative if there wasn’t one appointed in a will.

The downside to this, is that it’s up to the state to determine who gets what for the most part.

Every state has “intestate succession” laws that dictate who gets what.

Usually, only children and surviving spouses get awarded assets when there’s no will in-place.

Now if the person that passed didn’t have a surviving spouse, and don’t have any living children, then distant relatives are considered by the state.

Here’s the priority list of people that get the assets in intestate situations, from highest priority to lowest:

1. Surviving spouse (if applicable)
2. Children
3. Siblings

If the surviving spouse is too elderly, or just isn’t in a frame of mind to deal with everything, they can defer to one of their children.

Actually, the Personal Representative can be anyone from the family, as long as the family members above them in the priority list sign-off on it.

Thought I was going to be able to knock out this info in two posts, but I guess I was wrong.  

To check out part three, click the link below:

Probate Court Detroit MI | What to Know Before You Go Part 3

Do you have a property that you anticipate acquiring through probate that you want to sell for cash quickly?

Give us a call at 313.454.1190. We’d love to be of assistance.  

Or if you already own the home, and don’t want to call, you can just fill out this form with information on your property, and we’ll contact you within 24 hours.


Web References:
Michigan Probate: An Overview (via
Probate in Michigan – General Information (via
Do You Really Want to Avoid Probate? (via
What is a Living Trust? (via
Inter Vivos Definition (via
How Living Trusts Avoid Probate (via
Who Gets My Property if There Is No Will? (via
How an Estate is Settled If There’s No Will: Intestate Succession (via

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