Forward Thinking Family Law Since 1994

Probate & Trust Administration

What is Probate? Probate is the process a court uses to supervise a deceased person’s estate.  At times, it can be costly and time-consuming, so many people consult with an estate planning attorney to try to avoid the probate process.   Our attorneys can discuss with you the various and often free or inexpensive ways that you can avoid probate for many of your assets.  However, in some circumstances, you may be named as the personal representative for someone else’s probate estate, or a friend or loved one has died without a will.  We can assist you through the probate process and help walk you through the maze of legal requirements.

Should I try to avoid Probate in my estate plan?  The short answer, is maybe.  For many estates, you may be able to save your loved ones from the expense, time, and headaches that probate can cause by establishing a solid estate plan designed to avoid probate.  But there are always exceptions to the rule.  For a few people, their probate assets may be small enough that a unique procedure for small estates can be used that is quicker and easier than typical probate.  Additionally, some assets may be easily handled through the probate process, while others may not.  Thus, it is important to consult with someone who is knowledgeable about the subject of probate law to help guide you through the considerations.

I have been named the personal representative in someone’s will.  What should I do now? The probate process can be a daunting experience for anyone.  You may have questions about how to access estate accounts, how to prepare an inventory, what should you do about creditors, how long the process will take, and whether you can charge for your time.  For these and many other questions surrounding the probate process, the best advice is to seek the assistance of someone knowledgeable in probate law.  In most situations, the fee associated with seeking help from an experience attorney can be reimbursed from the estate.  Our lawyers are here to help you and to make sure the job is done properly, so you can minimize risk to yourself.

What is Trust Administration and what do I do if I have been named the trustee of a trust? 

A trust is a legal document that names a particular person (a trustee) to hold and manage assets belonging to the trust.  Trusts can be helpful to avoid probate, manage your assets after you die, protect assets for your children, or minimize tax consequences to your beneficiaries.  When you have been named as a trustee of a trust and you accept the role, you are required by Michigan law to meet certain legal requirements governing trusts and trustees.  Our lawyers can assist you so that you can be certain you have met all the legal requirements of your responsibility as a trustee in administering the trust according to its terms.  If you have been named as a trustee of a trust, it would be wise to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about trust administration.  Many trust documents allow the trustee to not only be compensated for their time, but to also hire professionals such as attorneys, accountants, and financial advisers to assist them in administering the trust assets.