Probate is a court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid. Today, we use the term "probate" to describe the process of distributing assets to beneficiaries or heirs through a procedural administration by the court. If there is a will, this is referred to as a Testate Estate. If no will has been left by the decedent, then the decedent’s property will descend by Intestate Succession.
If real estate and/or assets in excess of $18,000 are involved, Probate Administration is required with the appointment of a Personal Representative, the publication of Notice to Creditors, the filing of Inventories and Accountings with the Court. The Court will enter an Order of Discharge of the Personal Representative once the Personal Representative has completed the administration and fulfilled his/her fiduciary duties.
Michigan probate law also allows for a small estate procedure, at a lower cost to the families, depending on the value and type of asset. Small estates are generally used to collect the money left in a decedent’s bank account when there was no joint owner or beneficiary listed on the account.
There are many types of cases that end up in litigation in the Probate Court. Our office represents both fiduciaries and beneficiaries in the event that there are disputes and or discrepancies in the administration of a particular estate. These matters can include interpretation of Trust language, Will and Trust contests involving lack of capacity, undue influence, forgery, improper execution and tortious interference with an inheritance.
Audra B. Woods represented the family of Leonard Doman, whose caregiver assisted him during a period of incapacity in changing his Last Will and Testament, executing a Quit Claim Deed and changing ownership of all of his bank accounts to herself. This undue influence and conversion case went up to the Michigan Court of Appeals and was affirmed on all but the Fraud count. Find the Full Court Opinion here. Our efforts paid off in this Macomb Elder Care case.
Months after the civil litigation, the caregiver made the plea agreement with the Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens on the day she was scheduled to go on trial on a charge of embezzlement of more than $20,000 from a vulnerable adult, a crime that’s punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Most issues regarding probate are time-sensitive and may need immediate attention. The Woods Law Office is very experienced in all areas of probate law and we are in touch with all of the sensitive matters surrounding probate estates.
We are Woods Law Office and are experts when it comes to the probate process. Reach out to us today.