The failure to have a will in Michigan is not an absolute disaster, especially when a decedent wanted to have an outright distribution of assets to their children.
If there is no surviving spouse, Michigan law will allocate their share to a child even if there is no will. Any property that was given during life will be classified as an advancement if that intent was stated by the decedent when the gift was made.
Any debts owed by an heir will be charged to the share of the estate that they receive. Laws governing exempt property and allowances remain in effect. Wills and trusts generally do not guarantee privacy. If there are any disputes, there may be court filings concerning the trust or other important document, allegations relating to a claim or a course of action or accounts and their allowance.
If there is any heir who has a disability other than being a minor, a durable power of attorney may be required who is authorized to receive property on behalf of that heir. A special needs trust may be needed to retain benefits to a disabled beneficiary.
Creditors rights remain. Where there is no probate estate, the trustee of a revocable trust must publish notice to the settlor’s known and unknown creditors. The estate’s personal representative may close the estate by filing a statement with the court and an accounting of distributions. Objections may be filed within 28 days.
Estate planning helps provide tax savings and allows for efficient asset distribution and may overcome potential problems and disputes. An attorney can assist with this planning or help heirs when planning was inadequate.