The administration of an individual's estate after their death is regulated under Michigan probate court rules. An estate is opened in the county in which the decedent lived at the time of death or, if not domiciled in Michigan at the time of death, the county in which the decedent owned property. Once the petition is filed in probate court, a hearing is held unless all interested parties consent to the filing or waive the need for a hearing. The judge may assign a personal representative.
This representative may be appointed formally or informally and respond by filing an Acceptance of Appointment form. The personal representative has certain duties, and these include establishing if there is a will, providing copies of the will to beneficiaries and checking its validity. The representative must determine what assets the estate has and their worth. After 91 days, the representative may provide an inventory to the court and all beneficiaries.
The representative also gives notice to all creditors either directly or through publication that the decedent's will is in probate. Appropriate claims against the estate, as well as taxes, must be paid. If taxes are not paid before assets are distributed, the personal representative is liable for the amount. Assets are then distributed among the heirs as designated, and a log of all estate funds is maintained by the representative. The personal representative may be paid a reasonable amount for his or her services. Representatives may decline appointment or be removed if they are not performing their duties properly.
An attorney may assist the representative in the administration of the estate. Since some estates are complex, the assistance of an attorney may be beneficial, and the attorney may offer guidance into the representative's duties and obligations.
Source: Wayne County Probate Court, "Administering a Decedent's Estate", September 30, 2014