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Probate and trust administration is a general area of law the describes law dealing with the distribution of an individual's assets and the settlement of their liabilities after death. When a person dies, a new legal entity, the Estate, is created. The Estate becomes the owner of the decedent's assets and liabilities. Estates, whether probate or trust, must go through some form of legal process to legally transfer the Estate's assets to the beneficiaries of the Estate.
In some cases, the legal process is called probate. In Michigan, the administration of estates in probate is handled by the probate court system. Whether someone dies with a valid will in place, or without one (called intestacy), a probate estate is usually opened and administered by a personal representative or "PR" (commonly known as an executor). The PR follows certain rules, procedures and deadlines required by Michigan law, which are often times confusing for the loved one or family friend appointed to serve as PR. There are numerous forms that must be filled out properly and served on "interested persons." There is also a priority of payments that must be followed or a PR runs the risk of being held personally financially responsible for any mistakes that result in adverse consequences. It is highly recommended that any person nominated to serve as personal representative seek the assistance of experienced and knowledgeable probate estate attorneys, such as ours.
Individuals whose estates are held in a trust prior to their death are administered by the trustee of the trust. Trust administration is similar to probate administration, with some exceptions. Generally, trust administration occurs outside the scope of the probate court system, unless an interested person requests court oversight or involvement for a valid reason. Instead of a PR handling the affairs, it is the trustee. The trustee must carry out the terms of the trust, and also abide by the Michigan Trust Code and applicable common law related to trusts. Most importantly, a trustee must act in the best interest of all the beneficiaries, and recognize that he or she has a fiduciary duty to each and every beneficiary. Often times, a non-attorney family member has been nominated to serve as the trustee, so it is imperative that the trustee contact and retain a knowledgeable and experienced trust attorney to help him or her carry out their legal duties as trustee.
The law firm of Curtis, Curtis & Brelinski has been handling probate matters in Jackson County, Michigan since 1901; and the firm was founded by a former Jackson County Probate Court Judge, the grandfather of our current managing attorney, Philip J. Curtis. Our lawyers and paralegals have decades of experience in probate court and assisting with the administration of probate and trust estates. Attorney Philip J. Curtis also routinely serves as a fiduciary (personal representative or trustee) when requested, so he has first-hand experience serving as a personal representative and trustee, and knows the issues and challenges his clients might be facing throughout the administration.
Curtis, Curtis & Brelinski also has experienced tax return preparers on staff to assist with individual, estate and trust tax return preparation and filing[Jackson MI Tax Attorney Services]. Philip J. Curtis has been a tax attorney for over 40 years, assisting his individual, fiduciary and business clients with tax planning, preparation and filing. Accountant Julie A. Anderson formerly worked as a staff accountant at a local CPA firm, and currently assists our clients with individual, estate, trust and not-for-profit tax return preparation and filing. She has been serving clients for over 20 years in the professional services industry in Jackson, Michigan.
The death of a loved one is usually a very emotional and stressful time. When a friend or family member dies, the last thing most people think about is dealing with unfamiliar legal matters. Our probate, trust and estate administration lawyers will counsel and assist you and your family every step of the way with the administration of your loved one's estate and ensure that their last wishes are carried out properly, efficiently and lawfully, so you can have peace of mind in this difficult time.
For more information or to set up an appointment, please call the experienced probate and trust administration attorneys at Curtis, Curtis & Brelinski at (517) 787-9481, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our online contact form. Based in Jackson, we handle probate and trust administrations throughout lower Michigan, and regularly represent fiduciaries and beneficiaries located throughout Michigan and the country.
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