Probate is simply the legal process of appointing a personal representative, paying the decedent’s debts and final expenses, determining the heirs, liquidating assets, paying all estate taxes of the decedent, and distributing assets to the rightful heirs.
The assets and liabilities owned at the time a person passes away forms their “estate.” The state of Michigan has a set of laws that govern the administration of the estate and dictate how to accommodate the deceased’s estate plan. The process of closing an estate is overseen by the state’s Probate Court system.
In order to obtain authority to act on behalf of the estate, the court generally must appoint the personal representative (also known as the executor or administrator). Once appointed, the personal representative assumes fiduciary rights and responsibilities to properly administer and distribute the decedent’s estate and is accountable to the court, creditors, and beneficiaries regarding the estate.