Experienced Probate and Trust Administration in Genesee County
Upon an individual’s death, his or her estate must be administered. Generally, estate administration involves gathering the assets of the estate, managing those assets, paying the decedent's debts and distributing the remaining assets. Depending on the individual, this can be a very simple task or a very complex ordeal. Typically, if an individual passes away without a will, or without any estate planning in place, their estate will be administered with the assistance and guidance of the probate court. If a properly executed and funded trust is in place at the time of death, the probate process is often avoided. Regardless, proper estate planning can normally limit court intervention and/or simplify the probate and trust administration processes. Sometimes, however, court proceedings are unavoidable. The probate courts also handle matters concerning conservatorships, guardianships, and trust actions.
Regardless of the Type of Estate Administration, Gerkin & Decker Can Assist You With:
- Determining the appropriate course of action after an individual has died
- Locating assets and preparing estate inventories
- Obtaining asset appraisals
- Filing the will with the probate court, if necessary
- Petitioning the probate court for appointment of a personal representative, if necessary
- Identifying and notifying beneficiaries and creditors
- Collecting monies owed to the estate and paying debts and taxes
- Administering the probate or trust assets
- Properly distributing assets to the appropriate beneficiaries
- Contesting wills and trusts
- Fiduciary and beneficiary disputes
- Conservatorships and guardianships
Gerkin & Decker prides itself on helping individuals through the often-confusing probate and trust administration process. Call us today to learn how we can help you navigate the complexities of an estate administration.
Probate and Trust Administration FAQ’s
When is it necessary to open a probate estate for a decedent?
A probate estate must be opened if a person dies with property in his or her name alone (not joint), or owns an insurance policy or retirement benefits and has not named anyone as a beneficiary or has made the money payable to the estate.
Does a Last Will and Testament avoid probate?
No. Without additional estate planning, a will does not avoid probate if the decedent dies while owning assets solely in his or her name.
In which county do I file to open a probate estate?
A petitioner would file a decedent's estate in the county in which the decedent was domiciled (usually, this is where the decedent lived) at the time of death. If the decedent was domiciled outside of Michigan, but had property in Michigan, the petitioner may file an estate in the county where the decedent’s property was located at the time of death.
When can I begin acting on behalf of a probate estate?
You cannot act on behalf of the estate until you have been appointed personal representative (either formally or informally) and have received your Letters of Authority from the probate court. Letters of Authority give the personal representative the right to act on behalf of the estate and to perform the necessary actions to administer the estate.
Can I receive payment for serving as personal representative or successor trustee?
Yes. The amount must be reasonable and is subject to review by the court. The fees cannot be taken until the administration of the estate is completed.
Can I hire professionals to help me administer the estate?
Yes. You can use attorneys, accountants, investment advisors or other professionals to help assist in estate administration. The fees of these professionals are subject to review of the court, and if reasonable, can be paid from the estate. Even if you hire experts, as personal representative or successor trustee, you are still responsible for the estate’s administration.
If I establish a trust, don’t I still need to appoint an executor of my estate?
If you establish a revocable living trust, you will be appointing a Successor Trustee to administer your trust estate after your death. A Successor Trustee essentially performs the same function as what many people commonly refer to as an “Executor” of an estate. A significant difference is that the Successor Trustee will typically not have to undergo any court proceeding to accomplish your goals.