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What Exactly IS Probate?

Ah, that forever-fretted term, Probate! Does it give you the heebie-jeebies? It really shouldn’t. In short, Probate is the process used to transfer assets of someone who is deceased to their heirs or other designated persons, charities, etc.

During your lifetime, you are free to transfer your assets as you choose simply by gifting or selling personal property, signing a deed to a house, or signing a title to a car over to the person buying it.

But who has the authority to make these transactions after you die? Your Personal Representative. How do they get authority? The Probate Court judge gives it to them. How does the Probate court give it to them? By issuing Letters of Authority.  When can you get these “Letters of Authority”? When you open a probate estate.

When a probate estate is open, the person nominated as the personal representative will receive the “Letters of Authority” that they will use as evidence of their authority to sign on behalf of the decedent. They can then, and only then, sign over probate assets according to the terms of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, or according to Intestate Succession. Intestate Succession determines what happens when someone dies without a valid will. Yup, you have a will, even if you didn’t know it. The State of Michigan drafted it and it’s called Intestate Succession – discussed in a later blog.

So don’t fret, the probate process is most often not a complete nightmare. But it IS complex and riddled with many small laws that the average citizen would not know about. Failure to probate an estate properly can be grounds for fines or other court-ordered punishments. If you are faced with a potential need for probate, it is very important that you at the very minimum speak with an attorney about the right steps to take.

What Makes Probate So Complicated?

Here’s a story that many of us are familiar with: A widow dies with $100,000, one property, and no will. Her adult son and daughter simply want to go to the probate court and say “here are the assets, we are the only heirs. Can’t we agree to split everything between the two of us?”…

Alles Law

So I’ve Saved for Retirement. Now What?

Ahhh, retirement. The sunshine on your face, the slow mornings, the ample time to explore the places you always wanted to. You dreamt of this leisurely life for 40 years, and now you’re living it. But what if all this peace and quiet was swept away just because you didn’t plan correctly? What do you…

Alles Law

The Big Hollywood “Getting My Affairs in Order” Moment

A fight scene. An escape from the country. A car chase. A risky scientific breakthrough. These are usually the high stakes moments in your favorite movies when the main character finally decides to “get their affairs in order.” It’s always something big, and there’s always a time crunch. You might see them call up their…

Alles Law
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