July 16, 2017
How Long Will the Probate of An Estate Take in Michigan?
This is a common question for many clients as they prepare to probate a loved one’s estate. Unfortunately, there is not a set timeline for all estates. While many estates follow a predictable timeline, your situation may be different from another person’s situation. Numerous factors may lengthen the probate process.
Simple estates may be settled in less than a year. However, complex estates involving probate litigation could take years to settle. Even though many aspects of estate administration involve filing deadlines and court schedules, there are also many aspects that are completely reliant upon the personal representative, heirs, and creditors. Understanding some of the common causes of delays in the probate process can help a personal representative avoid mistakes that lengthen the process.
Hiring an experienced Michigan estate attorney is one step a personal representative can take to help ensure that the estate process moves as quickly as possible. An attorney who is familiar with the process, laws, and probate courts can help a personal representative avoid delays and errors that complicate the process.
Common Causes of Delays in Probate Cases
Again, all cases are different. Therefore, you cannot base your situation on any other probate case. However, the following issues are some of the common reasons why a probate case takes longer to close than other cases:
- The need to complete and file personal and estate tax returns;
- Missed deadlines (i.e. petitions, notices, etc.)
- Valuation of unusual assets that require professional appraisals (i.e. antiques, collectibles, firearms, and classic cars)
- Identifying and locating heirs, especially when there is not a will
- Liquidation of certain assets such as selling real estate or business interests
- Litigation by heirs to challenge the will or allege an interest in the estate
- Settling disputed claims by creditors
Mistakes by the Personal Representative
In addition to factors that can delay the probate process that are outside of the personal representative’s control, there are mistakes that a personal representative can make that will delay the process. Below are several tips that can help you avoid these mistakes:
- Perform an immediate inventory and accounting — As the personal representative, you are required to inventory the assets of the decedent and provide an accounting to the court. As quickly as possible, secure the assets and begin your inventory. In a large estate, you may need the assistance of a professional. The quicker you can inventory the estate, the faster you can begin to distribute property according to the will or intestate law.
- Provide timely notice to heirs and creditors. Heirs and creditors have a legal right to timely notice. If you delay notice, you delay the probate process.
- Do not miss deadlines. Deadlines are important and missing those deadlines can result in court hearings and other delays. The case cannot move forward unless each deadline is met.
- Communicate with heirs on a regular basis. Heirs can provide a great deal of assistance when preparing the inventory and accounting. Furthermore, by communicating with heirs, you may prevent costly and timely motions and petitions from heirs who are disgruntled or misinformed about the progress of the estate.
- Hire an experienced Michigan estate attorney. Our attorneys offer support, guidance, and legal counsel for personal representatives. We can help you avoid obstacles and delays in the probate process by assisting you with each step and protecting you from time-consuming and costly errors.
Contact a Michigan Probate Lawyer for Help
For more information or to speak with a Michigan probate lawyer, call The Elder Care Firm of Christopher J. Berry, CELA at 888-390-4360 or use the contact form on our website. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family. It is our desire to help you through the probate process by removing some of the stress of probating your loved one’s estate by helping you complete the process as quickly as possible.