Michigan has some nifty methods that can be used as shortcuts through the probate process. This blog is about one that we call the Petition and Assignment Method. It's Part 2 of our series on Quick and Dirty Probate. In case you missed it, check out Part 1.
You can use the Petition and Assignment Method if:
- The date of death value of the decedent's real estate and personal property minus funeral and burial expenses does not exceed $27,000 (for 2023). You don't get to subtract mortgages or other liens from the value of real estate for this purpose.
- Nobody's filed a petition or application for probate in connection with your decedent.
How to do it
- "Lot 44, Caves and Puddles Subdivision No. 1, as recorded in Liber 10, page 22 of Plats, Bedrock County Records".
- "All funds on deposit in First Bank of Bedrock" or
- "15 shares of Prudential common stock".
Include the value of the property. For real estate, use 2 times the SEV shown on the current year's tax bills. Subtract out the amount of mortgage debt. For bank accounts, show the date of death balance.
In Part 4, fill in the total funeral and burial expenses and the name of the person or person who paid those expenses, and how much each of them paid.
In Part 5, list the name and address of the surviving spouse, if there is one. If not, list the heirs. Who are the heirs? Usually, that means that you'll list the decedent's legal children -- biological or adopted (not stepchildren). If any of the decedent's children died already, then that child's children are also heirs, and they are entitled to and equal share of their deceased parent's share. If you have to go past that point, consult a lawyer. Note that the decedent's Will is of no importance in this process. A beneficiary who is named in the Will, but who is not an heir, cannot be assigned a share of the remaining property through this process.
Part 6 involves some simple arithmetic to figure the reimbursements to the funeral and burial expense payors. The rest goes to the surviving spouse or in the required shares to the heirs.
Sign and date Form 556m. If you don't have an attorney, then no attorney's signature is needed.
Complete the Form PC556o (Parts 1 and 2) copying the info from Form PC556m -- especially the stuff in Part 6.
Form MC 97
Also, complete Form MC 97 Protected Personal Identifying Information to identify last four digits of the decedent's Social Security number and the account numbers for any bank or other financial accounts that you listed on Form 556m.
Gather your paperwork
Grab a copy of the death certificate and get the burial and funeral invoices. You must also have a paid itemized funeral bill or statement of amount owing. If paid, it must show who paid it, such as “Paid in Full by ___________.” A statement showing simply “Paid” or $0 balance is not sufficient.
Head to the Courthouse
Take the completed Form PC 556m, Form PC 556o, Form MC 97, the death certificate and the funeral and burial invoices or statements to the clerk at the probate court in the county where the decedent resided. There's a $25 fee for the Form PC 556m filing, plus an inventory fee that will be figured by the clerk. Assuming everything is A-OK, the clerk will give the order to the Judge to sign and will give you Part 1 of the Form 556o. Get one certified copy for each asset that you listed on Form PC556m.
Hit the bricks (or mail some letters)
If there was any real estate assigned, head to the Register of Deeds for the county where the real estate is located, and present one of your certified copies of the Order (Form PC 556o) to the register for recording. Then take or mail a certified copy of the Order to each bank on the list and request that the accounts get closed and checks are issued to the spouse or heirs. For stocks, send a certified copy of the Order to the corporation's stock transfer agent with a request to transfer the shares to the surviving spouse or heirs.