An Introduction to the Probate Process in Michigan

Here is a brief introduction to the probate process in Michigan so you know what to expect and how to avoid it so you can have peace of mind during a difficult time.

Losing a loved one is difficult – emotionally and physically exhausting. What can make it even harder is the probate process that comes afterward. This legal process can be overwhelming and is entirely avoidable. Here is a brief introduction to the probate process in Michigan so you know what to expect and how to avoid it so you can have peace of mind during a difficult time.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a default legal process that determines how, when, and to whom your loved one’s assets are distributed if they pass away without planning in place. In Michigan, if someone passes away with property in just their own name without any named beneficiaries, the property must go through probate before it can be distributed to their heirs. This process involves:

  • Locating a Will, if they have one, and determining if it’s valid under Michigan law
  • Gathering information about their assets to decide which ones need to go through probate
  • Preparing and filing all the required probate forms by each deadline and paying the necessary filing and inventory fees
  • Publishing a legal notice to creditors in the newspaper
  • Collecting/liquidating assets and handling personal property
  • Handling all required final tax filings, including those for the estate
  • Paying all final expenses and debts
  • Distributing the remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs based on either the Will or Michigan law

How long does it take?

The probate process in Michigan can take anywhere from five months to several years, depending on the complexities of the situation. In Michigan, there are two types of probate estates. A Small Estate requires a one-time filing and is “open and shut” fairly quickly. However, a Small Estate can only be utilized if the decedent’s assets are minimal. A full Probate Estate is utilized in all other situations and can be either formal or informal, and either supervised or unsupervised. A typical Probate Estate is both informal and unsupervised, and doesn’t usually require a hearing.

Who’s in charge?

If an individual has a valid Will, this legal document will appoint a Personal Representative to handle the administration of their Probate Estate. If an individual passes away without a Will, Michigan law provides for an order of priority for people to assume this position. The order of priority typically starts with a surviving spouse and then moves on to children.

What Are The Costs Associated with the Probate Process in Michigan?

The costs can vary depending on which type of Estate is opened. Generally, the costs will include various probate court filing fees ranging from $25-$175, certified copy fees beginning about $11 each, publication fees of roughly $65, and probate court inventory fees of at least $5 but typically in the hundreds to thousands of dollars. This does not include attorney fees which can range from $750-$3,500 depending on the complexity of the situation, whether there is conflict among the family members, and how involved the Personal Representative wants or needs their attorney to be.


The probate process in Michigan can be complex and challenging, especially when you’re mourning a loved one’s passing. However, I hope this introduction to the process provided you with a better understanding of what to expect. It’s essential to consult with an experienced probate attorney to help guide you through the process and give you peace of mind. At the end of the day, taking it one step at a time and relying on knowledgeable support can make all the difference. Remember, you are never alone in this process.

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