What is probate?

The term probate refers to the legal process by which a person's property (the probate estate) is distributed to his or her heirs after death. The probate process is under the jurisdiction of the the Michigan Probate Court system. In some cases the probate court directly supervises the administration of the estate. In other cases, the supervision is in formal. In all cases, the administration of the probate estate is directly managed by a personal representative who is formally or informally appointed by the court.

Generally speaking, the probate processing involves 3 steps:

Collection of the assets. During this phase the personal representative must assemble, secure and prepare a complete inventory of the assets of the estate.
Payment of charges and debts. Once the assets are gathered, the PR must pay the any valid claims against the estate from the estate's assets. Such debts may include funeral expenses, taxes, debts to creditors, attorneys fees and general costs of administration
Distribution of the assets. The final step in the process is for the PR to distribute the remaining assets according to the deceased individuals will (or Michigan's intestate succession laws if there is no will.)