Probate is a judicial process by which assets are distribution to deceased person's heirs and beneficiaries. Probate proceedings are necessary when a person dies with property titled solely in his or her name. In that case, probate is the only method to transfer the property to the person's beneficiaries.
Probate has gotten a poor reputation in recent years. Countless books, articles, and seminars describe the horrors of probate, and how to avoid it. However, the cost and delay associated with probate is usually exaggerated.
You will need to gather the following documents and information to start probate:
In general terms, a personal representative has the following duties in an informal probate proceeding (other duties may apply in each case):
The cost of probate is not as high as most people believe. It consists of four fees -- filing, publicaton, administrative, and legal. The fees are determined as follows:
The time to complete probate is also misunderstood. It takes at least five months to complete the probate process. However, four months of that time are allowed for creditors to make claims against the estate. In many cases, a portion of the assets are distributed to the heirs while the probate proceedings are still pending.
John P. Tamboer, attorney
Estate Planning Law Group
5088 Corporate Exchange Blvd.
Grand Rapids, MI 49512