Probate Administration & Litigation

If you are faced with the prospect of settling the estate of a deceased family member, you have our sincere condolences. The weeks and months after losing a loved one are hard enough without having to navigate the often-complicated probate process. We know that we can’t take away your grief at this time of loss, but we can provide the guidance and support you need to navigate the probate process, sometimes referred to as estate administration.

Whether your loved one had an estate plan or not, it is likely that their estate will have to go through some type of probate process. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, it may qualify for a simplified process for small estates, or a supervised or unsupervised process for regular estates. As the name suggests, the court is more deeply involved in a supervised probate process, and the personal representative (also called executor or administrator) of the estate has to inventory the assets in the estate and must seek court approval before taking certain actions regarding the estate. Even if the will names an executor, the court must appoint a personal representative to take care of estate business.

Most estates qualify to be unsupervised, but the closer court involvement of supervised administration can protect both the personal representative and heirs. That said, supervised administration also tends to be more complicated and expensive. An experienced Michigan probate attorney can help you figure out the best probate process for your family member’s estate, and help you open the estate and get appointed as personal representative.

The Probate Process and Duties of the Personal Representative

After a person with the legal right to do so applies to open a probate estate, the court will appoint a personal representative whose job it is to administer the estate. The personal representative is usually a close relative and may be named in the will. However, even if you are named as an executor in a will, you have no right to act on behalf of the estate until the court appoints you.

Once you are appointed, you have a number of duties, including:

  • Identifying, gathering, securing, and valuing estate assets;
  • Notifying heirs and creditors that the estate has been opened;
  • Paying all legitimate debts of the estate;
  • Filing tax returns on behalf of the estate and paying any taxes owed;
  • Filing accountings and other reports with the court;
  • Distributing any assets that remain after debts are paid to the people entitled to them;
  • Closing the estate.

If you are a personal representative, there are certain situations where you could be personally liable for failing to carry out your duties properly. For instance, different types of debts have different priorities to be paid. If you pay a lower-priority debt first and there is then no longer enough money to pay a debt with higher priority, you could be held responsible.

Fortunately, the State of Michigan recognizes that estate administration can be complicated and that the help of an experienced probate attorney is a benefit to not only the personal representative, but to the estate. For this reason, an attorney’s fees can usually be paid out of estate assets rather than by the personal representative. But this can only happen once the estate is opened and the personal representative is appointed. It is usually worthwhile to have an attorney’s help to avoid costly mistakes or unnecessary delay in administering the estate. Blume Law Group represents Michigan personal representatives at every step of the estate administration process.

Probate Litigation

Most estates are administered without issue, but occasionally there is a dispute regarding an estate. An heir might believe that the will submitted to the court is not the deceased’s most recent will. There could also be accusations that the will was procured by fraud or undue influence, or that it is not valid for some other reason.

There might be disputes between siblings over the estate, or disputes between the deceased’s adult children and spouse. And, on occasion, there are allegations that the personal representative has committed misconduct or needs to be removed for failure to carry out their responsibilities.

Blume Law Group is experienced in probate litigation and represents personal representatives, heirs, and beneficiaries, ensuring that their rights are protected.

Macomb County Probate and Estate Administration Attorney

There’s no question that the probate process can be intimidating, especially when you are grieving the loss of your loved one and are otherwise under stress. At such a challenging time, it makes sense to have the help of an attorney who is skilled, familiar with the local probate courts, and compassionate.

Attorney Sean Blume has spent the majority of his career working for families, including families who have lost a loved one. At Blume Law Group, we are committed to helping guide clients through the Michigan probate process efficiently and sensitively. We help Michigan residents in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, and St. Clair counties settle their family members’ estates and move on with their lives. We invite you to contact our office to schedule a free consultation regarding probate administration or litigation. We look forward to working with you.