What is probate?
When people say “probate” they mean the legal process of moving property through a court after the owner of the property has died.
When do I need it?
You need it if you died owning property in your own name and the value of your “probate estate” was too large to get through probate any other way. Only your probate estate must go through probate. Some of your property does not have be probated. The “probate estate” is the property that must go through probate.
What do I have to do?
You don’t need to do anything if you are okay with having all of your property given to your relatives in the same way that Michigan law provides. If you want specific things to go to specific people or if you want to divide up your estate among the people that you choose, then you need a Will.
Where does the probate process happen?
Generally, probate is in the county in which you resided and not the county where you died. The death certificate will declare your county of residency. The informant (relative) who gives the information for your death certificate ought to be a reliable person who can obtain your driver’s license, voter registration or similar documents that have the address of your residence on them.
Who will the court put in charge of the estate?
The most important feature of your Will is probably the person that you named to be in charge of probating your estate. If that person does not want to be in charge, then he or she can decline it.
Why is this necessary?
After you die, your things are either sold or given away. You are not there to do it. You cannot sign a title after you are dead, so the court must take care of that for you. That is essentially all that the probate process is about. It is about transferring the title on your assets to someone else. There are many assets that cannot be dealt with without the probate court’s help, including real estate in the decedent’s name only and the handguns that were registered in the decedent’s name.