How to Probate a Small Estate in Michigan
Small Estate Limits for Michigan
In Michigan you can use an Affidavit if the estate does not include real property and the value of the entire estate, less liens and encumbrances, is less than $24,000 (adjusted for inflation). There is a 28-day waiting period.
Mich. Comp. Laws 700.3983.
There is also a summary probate procedure for estates with a value of $15,000 or less, after payment of funeral and burial costs, or if the value of the entire estate, less liens or encumbrances, doesn't exceed the homestead allowance, exempt property, family allowance, and costs of administration, funeral expenses, and last illness expenses.
Mich. Comp. Laws 700.3987.
What's Included in valuing the estate?
Not everything a person owns is part of their "Estate" for probate purposes.
If you're wrapping up the estate of a Michigan resident who died with an estate that's worth less than a certain dollar amount, you won't have to go through a formal probate court proceeding.
It doesn't matter whether or not the deceased person left a will; what matters is the value of the assets left behind. If the estate's value is under the "small estates" limit in Michigan, you can take advantage of a simplified probate procedure, often called a "summary probate." Instead of having a court hearing in front of a judge, you may need only to file a simple form or two and wait for a certain amount of time before distributing the assets.
In some states, it can be even easier: Inheritors can use a simple affidavit to claim assets. (An affidavit is a statement you sign in front of a notary, swearing something is true.) If you live in one of those states, you just have to wait a required period of time, then sign a simple, sworn statement that no probate proceeding is happening in your state and that you are the person entitled to inherit a particular asset--a bank account, for example.
Adding it up, what's in, what's not
When you are trying to determine whether or not an estate's value is below the Michigan small estates limit, the first thing to do is make a list of the assets. A simple spreadsheet or list will do.
Not everything a person owns counts, though.
Include only the things that pass to heirs and beneficiaries by will or, if there's no will, by Michigan intestacy laws, which determine who inherits if there is no will.