Provided by the Probate & Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan
When can I Distribute Property & Close the Estate?
Before you can distribute property to the heirs or beneficiaries and close the estate, you (or whoever is acting as the personal representative) must pay the decedent's debts and the expenses to administer the estate. If the debts and expenses are more than the value of the estate, certain beneficiaries may not get anything. You must complete all tax returns and receive all tax clearances before you distribute any property. If you have distributed all of the property in the estate before paying taxes owed, you will have to go back to the beneficiaries and retrieve the property necessary to pay those taxes. To close the estate you must file a specific document with the court that says you finished administering the estate and did what you were required to do as the personal representative. You may also need to get receipts from the estate beneficiaries and make a final accounting.
Who Pays the Attorney & Other Professional Fees?
Legal and other professional services are paid from the estate.
Can the Estate Pay the Personal Representative?
Yes. A personal representative can be paid a reasonable fee from the estate for acting as the personal representative. An attorney can give you guidance as to what is a reasonable fee to help you avoid the possibility of having this amount reduced by the probate court.
Can My Authority as Personal Representative be Taken Away From Me?
The probate court can take away your authority if you do not perform your duties correctly and on time. Any interested person or the court may take action to remove you or to make you do what is required. You may be found personally liable for losses caused by your mistakes or oversights or by your failure to act quickly, wisely, or fairly. A lawyer will help you avoid these problems by assisting you in the performance of these duties.
How Fast is Probate?
An estate cannot be closed in less than five months from filing. The estate's creditors must be notified of the decedent's death. They are given a four-month period to file their claims against the estate. The actual time it takes to administer an estate varies in each case based on the size and complexity of assets, whether objections are filed by heirs or devisees, and economic conditions if the decedent's house is being sold. In each instance, hiring a lawyer will ensure the process is handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.