Westland Probate Lawyer
The attorneys at Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C., understand the intricacies and complexities of probate court and they have successfully guided thousands of clients through this process. The Probate Court most commonly handles cases involving Guardianships (minors and adults), Conservatorships and Decedent Estates.
For more information regarding the probate process, contact an experienced Michigan lawyer at our law firm.
Westland Probate Attorneys Serving Your Legal Needs
- Guardianships (Adult). A guardian is a person appointed by the Probate Court who is given the responsibility of making certain decisions about the care of another person. For adults, these decisions typically include medical treatment decisions and/or decisions regarding housing. The court can only appoint a guardian if it finds that the person is legally incapacitated and/or if the court determines that a guardian is necessary. A “legally incapacitated individual” is an adult the court finds to be so impaired by mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, or any other cause that he or she cannot make or communicate informed decisions.
- Guardianships (Minors). A guardian may be appointed for a minor which gives the guardian the authority to make decisions on behalf of the minor. A minor guardianship may be necessary in several circumstances, including the sudden death of a minor’s parents or entry of the custodial parent into a treatment facility, hospital and/or prison. In addition, guardianship can be sought in order to allow a child to attend school in a particular school district where educational opportunities are believed to be better or to allow the child to be insured by a private health insurance provider.
- Conservator. A conservator is a person appointed by the court to manage a person’s assets and property. A conservator may be needed if a person is unable to manage his or her own property or financial affairs due to mental or physical disability, chronic use of alcohol or other substances, confinement or disappearance.
- Decedent Estates. If a decedent owned property in his or her name individually that needs to be transferred, sold or distributed to heirs, it is likely that a probate estate will need to be opened. A probate estate can be opened either in the county where the decedent resided prior to his/her death, or any county where the decedent owned property. When a probate estate is opened, one or more persons are appointed the personal representative (also known as executor) of the estate. The duties and responsibilities as personal representative of the estate are to collect and preserve the assets, pay any justifiable expenses, taxes or claims that may exist against the estate, and ensure that the proceeds of the estate are properly distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs. In addition, a personal representative must invest and manage any estate assets as a prudent investor would, taking into account the purposes, terms, distribution requirements and other circumstances of the estate. When an estate is “probated,” it does not mean that assets are held or frozen by the Probate Court. Rather, the Probate Court is kept informed of the estate’s assets, and the distribution of same. In addition, the Probate Court may determine issues raised by interested parties related to the administration and/or distribution of the estate.
- How Can You Avoid Probate During Your Lifetime? In some cases, prior planning with a Westland probate attorney can avoid the necessity of Probate Court involvement both during your lifetime and after your death. For example, a well-prepared and comprehensive medical power of attorney and durable power of attorney can eliminate the need for the appointment of a guardian or conservator of an adult. By designating in writing the person you want to assist you with your financial affairs and/or medical decisions, you reduce the likelihood that the Probate Court will need to get involved. Further, there may be alternatives to appointing a guardian for a minor child. A minor guardianship may be avoided if another person is expected to serve and make decisions in place of a parent for six months or less. In that event, a parent or guardian may execute a power of attorney which would allow another person to make decisions for the minor child.
- How Can I Help My Heirs Avoid Probate? The preparation of a comprehensive plan by a competent and experienced Westland probate lawyer can reduce or eliminate the need for your heirs to go to Probate Court after your death. Most often a trust is used to avoid probate, however, there exist several other documents and tools that may allow your heirs to avoid Probate Court.
- What If Probate Court Cannot Be Avoided? In many situations, probate court is necessary to protect your loved ones. When working to protect your estate and preserve the dignity of your heirs, it is wise to work with a skilled law firm.
The Canton/Westland probate attorneys at Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C., are experienced and efficient in guiding clients through the many intricacies of estate planning and the Probate Court process and in helping clients who wish to be proactive in avoiding probate court.
Contact Our Michigan Probate Court Law Firm
If you have questions regarding the probate process in Michigan, contact the office of Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. or call 877-354-0660 to schedule a free initial consultation. We accept all major credit cards as payment for services.