If you have recently experienced the death of a loved one, you may have questions about the probate process. For many residents of the Grand Rapids area, the term “probate” is not one with which most of us are familiar. Yet when you are dealing with the estate of a family member, it is important to understand precisely what probate is, how probate works and when it is used, and what the process entails. Generally speaking, the probate process falls within the broader category of trust and estate law, and it is an issue that tends to arise during estate planning and in administering the estate of a deceased person.

What is the Probate Process?

First, and most importantly, you are likely wondering: what is probate? As an article from the American Bar Association explains, probate is the legal word for the process of administering the estate of the deceased when that administration is supervised by the court. What do we mean when we say administering the estate? A pamphlet from the State Bar of Michigan helps to explain what estate administration requires in our state. In short, during the probate process, a personal representative will administer the property of the deceased by doing the following:

  • “Marshalling” the assets of the deceased, which includes sorting through the property of the decedent, assembling and securing assets, and having those assets valued;
  • Paying charges owed by the deceased, such as final medical bills or funeral expenses, taxes, any money owed to creditors, and expenses associated with administering the estate; and
  • Distributing the remaining assets of the estate to the decedent’s beneficiaries.

Distribution of assets will happen in one of two ways. If the decedent had a will, then the assets will be distributed according to the will. If there was no will, however, then the assets will be distributed according to the law of intestate succession in Michigan.

When is the Probate Process Necessary?

When is the probate process necessary? Typically, whenever a decedent has property in his or her name, or has rights to receive property in his or her name (such as a debt owed), then the property must go through the probate process. In Michigan, there are some exceptions, and an experienced Michigan estate planning lawyer can examine the specifics of your case.

Understanding the Process of Probate

Now that you know what the probate process is and when it is required, it is important to understand the general steps in the probate process:

  • Family of the decedent will make funeral arrangements, locate the decedent’s will, compile a list of decedent’s property, and determine whether probate will be necessary;
  • Nomination of a personal representative will occur, and the court will appoint a personal representative of the estate;
  • Personal representative will assemble the deceased’s assets;
  • Personal representative will handle a wide variety of financial issues concerning the deceased’s property, including paying any charges owed by the deceased, distributing exempt property, and planning for taxes;
  • Personal representative will distribute the assets of the deceased to the beneficiaries; and
  • Personal representative will close the estate once all requirements of the probate process have been satisfied.
  • Generally speaking, after the appointment of the personal representative and prior to closing the estate, the personal representative has a duty to property manage the estate, including investments and other assets.

    Contact a Michigan Probate Attorney

    If you have questions about the probate process and how it works, an experienced probate lawyer in Michigan can assist you today. Contact the Law Offices of David L. Carrier, P.C. for more information about our services.

    Deciding where a loved one will reside after they are no longer able to care for themselves can be a difficult and emotional process. However, making plans for the future is often the best way to ensure an elderly relative will receive the best medical care and support possible. There are a variety of different types of assisted living facilities that can offer this care, including homes that accept insurance and those that do not. These decisions demand the greatest care and attention, so if you have questions or concerns about how to choose the best type of care facility for your loved one, it is critical to obtain the advice of an experienced elder law attorney who can help explain your options.

    Types of Long-Term Care

    Long-term care for the elderly is usually provided by one of the following:

    • A nurse or home care aide;
    • An unpaid caregiver;
    • Local adult day services; and
    • Residential care facilities.

    Assisted Living Facilities

    Often, the best course of action for many families is to reserve a space for a loved one in long-term assisted living facilities. These facilities can provide aid for seniors who do not need full-time care, but still require assistance with certain tasks, including:

    • Dressing;
    • Preparing meals;
    • Housekeeping;
    • Bathing;
    • Providing transportation to and from medical appointments; and
    • Administering medication.

    In these types of assisted living facilities, residents are often permitted to live in their own room or apartment and can participate in social and recreational activities with other residents. Rent is usually paid on a monthly basis, with families paying additional fees for particular services. Most also provide licensed nursing services for those with more serious medical concerns.

    Nursing Homes

    Nursing homes provide twenty-four hour nursing care for the elderly who require a high degree of medical care and assistance. Residents usually share a room and are served meals in a central dining area. Many such residences require private funding, although some accept Medicare and Medicaid.

    Residential Care Homes

    These are private homes that serve residents who live together, but also receive assistance and medical care from live-in caretakers. Residential care homes offer assisted living for seniors who desire a more community-based living arrangement, but who still require help with daily activities such as bathing and dressing. Residents can pay rent through private funds or Medicaid.

    Independent Living Communities

    Seniors with less serious or few medical conditions may be able to join an independent living community. In these living situations, elderly family members are able to live more independently in an apartment of their own, while still receiving assistance as needed.

    Providing for an elderly family member is an extremely important responsibility, so if your elderly relative has recently been diagnosed with a medical condition or needs assistance on a daily basis, please contact The Law Offices of David L. Carrier, P.C. by calling 616-361-8400 and we will help you set-up a consultation with an experienced Michigan elder law attorney who can provide guidance.

    How Do I Make An Estate Plan? | Law Offices of David L Carrier
    Deciding what will happen to your estate after your death can be an emotional and difficult process, but it can also save a decedent’s loved ones a significant amount of stress and worry. Fortunately, in Michigan, there are a variety of ways to plan for the disposal of an estate. Many residents choose to create a will specifically designating who will gain ownership of certain assets upon his or her death. Others choose to create a living trust or a testamentary trust, which are agreements under which assets are held and managed by an individual for the financial benefit of another. Whether you choose to establish a trust or write a will, it is important to have the advice of an < experienced estate planning attorney who can help you create a legally binding agreement that will protect both you and your loved ones.

    Planning An Estate

    Before planning an estate, it is important to take a few preliminary steps, including:

    • Identifying all living relatives who are to receive assets under the terms of the will or trust, including their addresses and relationship to the testator;
    • Listing all real estate property, financial assets, and personal possessions, including their values and their locations;
    • Estimating expected estate taxes, legal fees, and funeral expenses; and
    • Creating a rough plan for how the assets will be divided.

    What to Include in an Estate Plan

    It is critical to include certain information when drafting a will or trust, including:

    • Who will receive the testator’s property, including real estate, personal items, stocks, bank accounts, and retirement funds;
    • The names of alternate beneficiaries who will inherit the assets in the event that the original beneficiaries predecease the testator;
    • Who will act as an executor and administer the estate after the testator’s death;
    • The identity of a back-up executor;
    • The name of the person who will act as a trustee and manage assets in the trust until they are distributed;
    • The name of the person who will act as a guardian to any minor children;
    • A provision conferring power of attorney on someone to manage the testator’s financial affairs in the event of illness or mental incompetence;
    • If establishing a trust, a provision stating when the beneficiaries will receive the assets contained in the trust;
    • Any bequests intended for charity;
    • Instructions for how the testator’s business should be operated; and
    • The testator’s signature and the signatures of two witnesses.

    Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today

    Although contemplating death is emotional and often painful, it is in the best interest of all parties to make plans for that eventuality. For instance, knowing that his or her family will be financially provided for can put both a testator and his or her family member’s minds at ease. Organizing and dividing up assets and property can be a complex process, so if you or a loved one have not written a will or established a trust, please contact The Law Offices of David L. Carrier, P.C. by calling 616-361-8400 and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Michigan estate planning attorney.