The information, forms, and instructions in this section are intended to provide general information concerning filing procedures for probate proceedings, and it may be useful as a guide. The Court and the Court’s staff are prohibited by law from providing legal advice. This is the only assistance that can be provided by the court’s staff. If, after reviewing this information, you have any questions or need assistance in completing the forms contacting an attorney for assistance.
OPENING AN ESTATE
After someone passes away, an estate may need to be opened depending on the individual’s assets. There are times when opening an estate may not be necessary based on how the assets were owned. In addition, other procedures may be available to transfer assets depending on the circumstances. If an estate must be opened, there are two ways to begin the administration process – Formally and Informally.
INFORMAL AND UNSUPERVISED ESTATE PROCEEDINGS
Informal proceedings begin by filing an Application for Informal Probate and/or Appointment of Personal Representative (Testate/Intestate) Form PC 558 and other required documentation, along with a $175 filing fee. If the Application is granted, the Probate Register may admit an original will, and/or appoint a Personal Representative by issuing a Register’s Statement PC 568. [Note that a will informally admitted to Probate may be challenged at any time in a formal testacy proceeding.] An appointed Personal Representative becomes qualified to act by filing an Acceptance of Appointment and any required bond. The Personal Representative will proceed with unsupervised administration until the estate is closed. At any time, an interested party could file a petition requesting that the estate be “Supervised” or the Court may move to do so on its own motion.
*For specific information regarding the forms that may be required for an Informal Estate, please see the General Estate Information Handout.
FORMAL PROCEEDINGS (PETITION)
Formal proceedings begin by filing a Petition for Probate and/or Appointment of Personal Representative (Testate/Intestate) Form PC 559 and other required documentation, along with a $175 filing fee. After either a court hearing with proper notice to all interested persons or upon full waiver and consent, the Probate Court Judge may enter an order called an Order of Formal Proceedings, PC 569. This order may admit a will, determine the heirs of the deceased and appoint a personal representative.
Once the order is entered, the Personal Representative qualifies to act by filing an Acceptance of Appointment and any required bond. The personal representative will proceed with the administration until the estate is ready to be closed. A petition for a formal proceeding on any aspect of administration may be filed at any point. A judge then enters any applicable orders after either a court hearing with proper notice or upon of full waivers and consents.
*If you would like to learn more about the forms that may be required for a Formal or Informal Estate, please see the General Estate Information Handout.
There are many resources available in regard to administering an estate. If you would like to read more about the topic, you could visit the State Bar of Michigan, Probate Information page or the Michigan Legal Help website has a section titled Overview of Informal Probate.
PETITION AND ORDER FOR ASSIGNMENT
The term “Small Estate” is often used to describe a type of Court proceeding that is started by filing a Petition and Order for Assignment PC556. This procedure allows an individual to transfer assets of a decedent to first reimburse whoever paid the funeral bill, or pay the funeral bill if it is outstanding, with the remainder being split equally among the decedent’s heirs. In order to qualify for this procedure, the value of the decedent’s assets must not exceed a certain dollar amount. This value varies depending on the year of death. If the decedent died in 2019, the value of the gross estate must not exceed $23,000. For the value for prior years, please contact the Probate Court. If the date of death value of a decedent’s property minus the funeral and burial expenses is less than the above value, it may qualify as a small estate.
For more information about the required forms and filing fees, please see the Petition and Order for Assignment handout.
TRANSFER BY AFFIDAVIT
Depending on the assets involved PC 598 Affidavit of Decedent’s Successor for Delivery of Certain Assets Owned by the Decedent, may be used to transfer personal property to a Successor who is entitled to that property. Please note that this is not a Probate Court procedure and the form referenced above does not get filed with the Court.
Pursuant to MCL 700.3983, this form may be used when all of the following must apply:
- Estate does not include real property
- Estate value, minus liens and encumbrances, does not exceed $15,000 (plus cost of living adjustment – see link below)
- 28 days of have passed since the decedent’s death
- An estate is not pending, or has not already been opened
- The claiming successor is entitled to payment or delivery of the property
- The name and address of all individuals that are entitled to a share must be listed on the form, along with his/her portion.
To see the current Estates and Protected Individuals Code, Cost-of-Living Adjustments to Specific Dollar Amounts, you can visit the Michigan Department of Treasury Website.