Probate is a court-managed proceeding in which a person’s assets are retitled and distributed after he or she passes away. These assets are distributed according to the decedent’s will or, if the individual died without a will, according to the law of intestacy. While much of our practice is devoted to helping clients avoid probate, families often hire us to help them with the probate and estate settlement process.

Many people have heard the word probate but wonder what is involved in settling an estate. While no two estates are alike, here is a partial list of what is required to settle a “typical” estate:

  • Locate and file the decedent’s will (if he or she had one) with the local court
  • File necessary probate documents with the court
  • Locate, inventory, custody, close and transfer personal assets and accounts
  • Appraise and determine the value of all assets
  • Ascertain, and then notify, all known creditors of the estate
  • Make payments to creditors, discharge the decedent’s obligations and obtain creditor releases
  • Process and obtain life insurance death benefits, if any
  • Secure the decedent’s residence and tangible personal property
  • File tax returns (federal and Michigan) and make appropriate tax elections
  • Pay estate taxes and final personal income taxes, if any
  • Obtain tax releases and closing letters from the IRS, local courts and state taxing authorities
  • Make specific bequests, together with partial and final distributions, to beneficiaries.
  • Provide detailed accounting to beneficiaries and the local court

As you can imagine, accomplishing all of this would be hard enough without the added grief that comes with the loss of a loved one. You are not alone during this difficult time. We will guide you through the probate and estate settlement process from start to finish. Contact us today to schedule a personal meeting.

Trust Administration

Trusts must be properly administered to ensure the trust maker’s wishes are carried out. While there are a wide range of trusts, the administration process usually involves filings with the court, the IRS and state taxing authorities; notifying appropriate individuals in accordance with the law; opening bank accounts; settling creditor claims; paying the decedent’s final expenses; arranging for the sale of assets and more. All of this must be completed while making sure that proper accounting is maintained and the results provided to trust beneficiaries.

Trustees can be subject to severe legal and financial penalties for failing to properly administer a trust. If you have been asked to serve as trustee, we can explain the risks and guide you through the process. We can also work closely with your existing advisors and personal representatives to ensure all directives of the trust are properly carried out.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We can guide you through every stage of the trust administration process.