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.

Don't count:

These assets don't count towards the small estate limit because they pass to the named beneficiaries regardless of what a will (or state intestacy law) says. If a person had a life insurance policy with a named beneficiary, the insurance proceeds won't count either.

Loans on the property?

Some states also don't count the amount of money owed on a car, or a house, while others count the fair market value of an asset, even it is subject to a loan or a mortgage.

For example, say Donald died in Michigan and owned the following assets:

  • A checking account with $2,345
  • A savings account with $2,567
  • A car with a blue book value of $6,500 (and no loan)
  • An IRA with $32,000, naming his son and daughter as beneficiaries
  • A life insurance policy worth $15,000, naming his son and daughter as beneficiaries

To figure out whether Donald is above or below Michigan's small estate limit, only the bank accounts and car would be counted, for a total of $11,412.

His IRA and the life insurance proceeds aren't counted towards the limit because they will go to his beneficiaries directly. The value of the car is included because he doesn't owe money on it.

That means the value of Donald's estate is under the Michigan small estates limit. His son and daughter, who inherit his assets under Michigan's intestacy laws because Donald had no will, would follow the small estates procedure.

In Michigan, there are different options for probating a small estate depending on the value of the estate and the types of assets involved.

Please note that while this summary provides general guidance, consult an attorney familiar with Michigan probate law for advice about your specific situation.

Michigan Small Estate Affidavit

For estates valued at $27,000 or less (This amount is adjusted annually for inflation beginning on January 1st, 2000, and has increased to $27,000 as of January 1st, 2023), an inheritor may be able to use the small estate affidavit procedure to avoid formal probate.

Michigan Small estate threshold values:

Year of Death Value of Estate
  2000 $15,000
  2001 $16,000
  2002 - 2004 $17,000
  2005 - 2006 $18,000
  2007 - 2008 $19,000
  2009 - 2011 $20,000
  2012 - 2013 $21,000
  2014 - 2017 $22,000
  2018-2019 $23,000
  2020-2021 $24,000
  2022 $25,000
  2023 $27,000


This process can be utilized when there is no real estate involved in the estate. The inheritor would need to wait at least 28 days after the decedent's death to file the affidavit.

Citation: Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) § 700.3982 - Small estate affidavit.

Steps for using Small Estate Affidavit:

a. Confirm that the estate meets the requirements.
b. Wait at least 28 days after the decedent's death.
c. Complete the affidavit, providing necessary information about the decedent, the estate, and the inheritor.
d. Sign the affidavit in front of a notary public.
e. Present the affidavit to institutions or individuals holding the decedent's assets, who will then release the assets to the inheritor.

Informal Probate:

For estates that may not qualify for the small estate affidavit, but do not involve disputes or contests, informal probate can be an option. The probate register supervises this process, which is less expensive and time-consuming than formal probate.

Citation: MCL § 700.3301 - Informal probate.

Steps for Informal Probate:
a. File an application for informal probate with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived or owned property.
b. Provide required documents, such as the original will (if applicable) and death certificate.
c. Pay the filing fee.
d. The probate register will review the application and, if approved, issue a statement of informal probate and appointment of a personal representative.
e. The personal representative will administer the estate, including paying debts, distributing assets, and filing the necessary paperwork.

Formal Probate:

If the estate involves disputes, contests, or other complicating factors, formal probate may be necessary. This process is supervised by a probate judge and tends to be more expensive and time-consuming.

Citation: MCL § 700.3401 - Formal testacy and appointment proceedings; formal testacy and appointment proceedings; general provisions.

Steps for Formal Probate:
a. File a petition for formal probate with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived or owned property.
b. Provide required documents, such as the original will (if applicable) and death certificate.
c. Pay the filing fee.
d. Notify interested parties of the probate proceedings.
e. Attend court hearings as needed.
f. A personal representative will be appointed by the court, who will administer the estate, including paying debts, distributing assets, and filing necessary paperwork.

Consult with an attorney familiar with Michigan probate law to ensure that the correct procedure is followed, and all legal requirements are met.



Free Probate Case Evaluation For Michigan

Do you have questions about your inheritance or need help with probate in Michigan?

Since 2016, LegalConsumer.com has connected thousands of consumers with lawyers who can help them.

Use the form below to connect with a lawyer through the Nolo / Martindale network of probate lawyers.

SPONSORED FORM - Nolo/Martindale Attorney Network

Jurisdictional relevance: ST

There are versions of this article for each State.

Connect with a Probate Lawyer 855-324-7891Ads by +Nolo/Martindale Lawyer Network