Author: Macie Tuiasosopo Gaines, Esq

A will can be stressful and sometimes traumatic if it is unfamiliar territory. Many will not know what a testamentary court is until they need it. More often than not, people are forced to navigate this foreign court while grieving because they don’t have extra money for an inheritance lawyer or for a funeral. One good thing about a court will is that it can be administrative in nature. For example, the parties must use forms to manage estates. They are posted on the website of the Administrative Office of the State Court. [1]

In 2022, if the estate has less than $ 25,000 after paying the funeral and burial expenses, you can open a small property if you are the heir or the person who paid the funeral bill. You will need a death certificate, a funeral expenses receipt, information and valuables on the property, car, shares or any assets you wish to transfer to the other heirs. You will complete the “Appointment Petition” and “Protected Personal Identification Information” forms from the website referenced above. Once approved, the court will issue an order appointing the assets to the persons listed in your application. You can then submit this order to the bank to close the accounts, the Secretary of State to transfer the vehicle, etc. No formal hearing or additional documents are required.

  • The procedure is for the car only

If the heir leaves only the vehicle (and nothing else), the heir’s heirs may apply to the Secretary of State and obtain title upon application if the value does not exceed $ 60,000. The Secretary of State has a form called “Certification from the Heir of the Vehicle” available at any office or website. [2] This will allow the transfer to take place without the traditional will, as long as (1) there is no unfinished will process; (2) the will will not begin in the future; (3) the car costs less than $ 60,000; and (4) you are the heir of the heir.

If the only assets in the deceased’s inheritance are wages or additional payments, or both, paid to the deceased’s employer, the assets may be transferred without a will and without the appointment of a trustee. The only snag is that the plan should identify the payee. This is something to keep in mind to facilitate the process of your loved one when you die.

  • Clothes or cash less than $ 500

If your loved one has left less than $ 500 in cash or clothing that is in a hospital, nursing home, or correctional facility, you can get these things without traditional will procedures if you are a wife or father. You can introduce an identity and sign an oath to confirm the oath relationship.

This should only serve as a guide. Fear not, there are alternatives. If your loved one’s property exceeds these values, your local inheritance court is always a good place to start. If you need a heritage representation, contact experienced heritage lawyers in your area.

Macy Tuiasosopa Gaines is a member of the Wolverine Bar Association and a managing member of Gaines & Gaines PLC, a law firm for real estate planning and wills. She received her JD degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy Law School. In her practice, she guides individuals on real estate planning and wills, and assists clients in matters of real estate and trust and family law litigation.

[1] https://www.courts.michigan.gov/SCAO-forms/probate-court-forms/

[2] https://www.michigan.gov/documents/tr-29_16195_7.pdf

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