When someone dies, probate is the legal process that refers to the distribution of the decedent’s assets. The complexity of probate depends on the size of the estate and other factors.
Not all assets go through probate, and the personal representative is the person in charge of managing the estate.
Assets that do not go through probate
According to the State Bar of Michigan, certain assets can avoid going through probate administration. Basically, non-probate assets are any assets that the deceased named a beneficiary for. These include life insurance policies, retirement plans, and annuities. If a bank account has a joint owner with rights of survivorship, this also does not need to go through probate. Assets held in a trust typically can also avoid probate.
Types of probate administration
FindLaw discusses the different types of probate. For estates in which the value is $21,000 or less, all that is necessary is a summary administration, which is an expedited process that does not require a personal representative. Estates valued at $22,000 and above will either go through supervised or unsupervised administration.
One of the first things that happens in probate court is the appointing or confirmation of the personal representative. This individual is in charge of a variety of things:
- Locate, value and safeguard all listed assets
- Inform all named beneficiaries
- Maintain upkeep of the decedent’s property
- Contact creditors of the estate and pay all of the estate’s bills
- File and pay taxes for the estate
- Distribute assets as directed in the will
If the estate is complex, the personal representative can hire professionals, such as accountants or attorneys, to assist.