Many people in Michigan know that they need to have an estate plan in place in order to pass property from themselves to another. However, many people never actually take the opportunity to develop an estate plan during their lifetime.
Therefore, many people die without a will, trust or other estate planning tool in place. These estates, however, will still be distributed. Instead of following the wishes of the decedent, the estate will be distributed based on intestacy laws in Michigan.
When this occurs, a surviving spouse will have the first chance at receiving part of the estate. However, if there is no surviving spouse, then other heirs to the estate will need to be found. This is done in a strict order according to Michigan estate laws.
Under section 700.2103 of the Estates and Protected Individuals Code, the first person who will receive a share of the decedents intestacy estate after the spouse is the decedent's descendants. They will receive their shares by representation.
If there are no descendants, then the decedent's parents will share in the estate. If both parents are alive then they will share the state equally. If only one parent is alive than that parent will inherit the remainder of the estate. If the parents are not alive then the estate will be distributed to descendants of the parents. In other words, the estate will be distributed to the brothers and sisters of the decedent.
If still there is no parent or sibling or descendent available, then the state will pass to any surviving grandparent or descendants of a grandparent that is living. In this case, half of the estate will pass to paternal family and half of the estate will pass to maternal family.
Intestacy laws can be extremely complicated in Michigan. It can be difficult for courts to find family members and to distribute an estate. Therefore, individuals should focus on estate planning during their lifetime. Creating a will can avoid many of these issues. An attorney can give specific legal advice to people who are interested in estate planning.