The application of probate law differs according to the situation at hand. One notable protected class includes spouses who outlive their partners. These individuals are generally entitled to receive a special intestate share of their deceased partner's estate upon its execution. This form of share is provided for in the event that the deceased failed to create a will that supported the survivor.
Although state law facilitates the disbursement of an intestate share for spouses, their benefits are limited to certain assets. For instance, properties that were placed in trust structures for children from previous marriages or relationships can't be awarded to the more recent spouse. State law provides similar protections for properties that were put in trusts for grandchildren from other relationships.
Spouses may also find that even though they're eligible for an intestate share, the property they receive is limited by availability. Although surviving spouses generally take precedence, trusts and other will devises for previous children retain their exemptions. Also, bear in mind that intestate entitlements for spouses aren't applicable when wills left behind by the deceased seem to have taken these marriages into account. Some wills even explicitly state that they remain valid regardless whether their testator decided to remarry later.
Because inheritances, trusts and other estate structures take many forms, so do the probate laws that govern them. Certain exemptions may supersede others, and courts might delay the process further while determining which rules to follow. For families that need property to sustain their standards of living or simply want to attain closure, legal ambiguities may add to the stress associated with resolving an inheritance. It's important for potential beneficiaries to learn about their own circumstances in detail before they attempt to execute a will.
Source: Michigan Legislative Website, "700.2301 Entitlement of spouse; premarital will.", November 07, 2014