Probate Court Small Estate Under $22,000

Your petition will not be accepted if it is not completed properly, and must be accompanied by the required documents and fees.
The information in this packet is not intended to be legal advice. It is a brief explanation of the basic procedure that is required to obtain an assignment of property.
Probate Court personnel cannot give legal advice about your particular situation. The information contained here is the ONLY information court personnel can give you about this procedure. Should you need further assistance, you may wish to contact an attorney.
          Petition and Order for Assignment (PC556)
          Copy of the Death Certificate
          Copy of the paid and/or unpaid funeral/burial expenses
          If funeral bill paid in full or partially, provide a copy of the check used to pay the bill.
          Original Last Will and Testament and any Codicils
          $25.00 filing fee
          $12.00 certified copy fee
          Inventory fee based on the value of the estate. (You may call the court            (616-527-5326) for the amount of this fee once you have determined the total value of the assets to be assigned)
Michigan Law (MCL 700.3982) allows a small estate to be probated using an expedited process. The court files any wills and/or codicils, but does not admit them to probate. A personal representative is not appointed, and a court order is issued assigning assets.
The decedent must have been an Ionia County resident, or was not a Michigan resident but left property in Ionia County.
The total value of the estate, subtracting any funeral and burial expense which are either unpaid or were paid by someone other than the decedent after the decedent’s death is $18,000 or less.
          Funeral and burial expenses are those expenses directly connected with a funeral or memorial service and with the burial or cremation. A bill must account for funeral and burial expenses from the funeral home.
          If someone paid some or all of the funeral or burial expenses for the decedent, there must be a receipt from the funeral home indicating who paid and the amount paid.
A description and value must be given of all property within the decedent’s estate, including written documentation to verify. Statute explicitly requires the valuation to be on the gross value of the estate, and so any liens, encumbrances, mortgages, etc. should not be listed.
You must list the heirs of the decedent. If the decedent left a surviving spouse, that spouse is an heir. If the decedent left any children, they are all heirs. If a child pre-deceased the decedent, then any children of that child are heirs. If the decedent left no descendants, then the parents are heirs. If the decedent left no parents, then the brothers and sisters and issue (descendants) of predeceased brothers and sisters by right of representation are heirs.
Since the Assignment of Property is an expedited procedure, the statute is very strict on how a decedent’s estate may be assigned.
A)                The estate must be applied to pay any unpaid funeral or burial expenses to the funeral home. If the estate is less than or equal to the amount of the unpaid funeral and burial expenses, then all of the estate goes to the funeral home.
B)                 If there are assets left over after full payment of the funeral home, then any individuals or entities (including DHS) paying towards the funeral and burial expenses are to be reimbursed. If the estate is less than the total amount paid by others, then the estate is to be pro-rated according to the percentage each individual or entity paid.
C)                If the funeral home and anyone paying funeral or burial expenses have been reimbursed and there are still assets remaining, the remainder is to be assigned to the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, then the remainder is to be assigned to the decedent’s heirs. If the heirs happen to be children or other descendants of the decedent, then the assets will be assigned such that each child (whether alive or predeceased) represents an equal share.
An individual entitled to receive all or a portion of a decedent’s estate through an assignment of property may not assign the property to someone else.
The assignment of property process may not be appropriate in cases where the bulk of the estate is made up of an automobile, household belongings, or real property and there are multiple individuals entitled to the property. If this is the case, you may wish to speak to an attorney.
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