Probate Estate Law

Relieving the Administrative Burden

The last thing anyone who just lost a loved one should experience is a complicated legal process. Going through probate can be a grueling ordeal for a mourning family,  especially when the matters of a will, distribution, and legal paperwork must be addressed.

The counselors at Reeder Plachta Murphy P.C. are here to guide you through the probate process and trust administration, if necessary. We will help you get through all the steps as quickly and simply as possible.

Answers to Your Questions

What is Probate?

Probate law concerns the legal process of determining how a deceased person’s estate is administered. This includes the inheritance of assets and property, as well as taxation and the payment of any final debts or expenses.

In many cases, a last will and testament left by the deceased will guide much of this process, outlining where many of their assets will go. However, complications can arise in the form of unclear interpretations of items within the will – or having no will at all. 

The probate court oversees the general probate process and can pass decisions on any legal disputes that may arise.

What is Trust Administration?

Trust administration is similar in many ways to the probate process, but only concerns the distribution of assets from a trust that was established by the deceased. 

This process does not typically need to be overseen by the courts, but judicial intervention may be required if a problem occurs.

What Would RPM Do as Our Probate Attorneys?

Both the probate and trust administration processes often involve complex paperwork, and that is without any complications arising. A personal reprisentative of an estate or a trustee of a trust might be held personally liable if they don’t properly comply with legal requirements.

We guide you through the entire process, handling the needs and demands of administration. Such procedures may include:

  • Preparation and Filing of Court Documents
  • Collection and Inventory of Estate Assets
  • Notification of Heirs or Beneficiaries
  • Publication of Required Notices
  • Preparation of Accountings and Other Required Court Filings
  • Preparation of State and Federal Tax Returns and Payment of Taxes
  • Payment of Valid Claims Against the Estate
  • Distribution of Remaining Assets to Heirs or Beneficiaries

But there is much more to providing good legal services than going through the court-appointed motions. We work with our grieving clients in an understanding, compassionate manner, and take the extra steps to make the entire process as easy as it can be for you.

Can the Probate Process be Avoided?

The probate process can typically be avoided with comprehensive estate planning, avoiding most if not all the uncertainties that would need to be addressed in probate court. 

However, such preparations must be made before a person’s death. We are more than happy to take care of such planning with you and ensure a much easier experience for your loved ones.

Does Having a Will Always Mean Probate Can Be Avoided?

Unfortunately, not always. If there are any assets that the deceased solely owned and did not name a beneficiary to receive, those assets are considered “probatable” and would have to go through probate. These types of assets typically include bank accounts, IRAs, real property, stocks, and bonds, among others.

How Long Does the Probate Process Take?

The process itself depends on a number of factors, perhaps the least controllable being the court itself. Going through the court’s docket means being on their timetable, meaning that an already uncomfortable process can be prolonged by circumstances beyond your control.

Under Michigan law, a probate case must be open for a minimum of five months. Generally, most administration of probate cases takes from six to twelve months.

We will, of course, do all that we can to speed the process along. But ultimately, investing time in estate planning now – if possible – can save you much more within the probate system later on.

We’ll See You Through the Probate Process

For more than 20 years, we have helped families throughout West Michigan find faster and easier closure of their estate or trust administration. We will be more than happy to help you as well.

Please don’t hesitate to call our Grand Rapids office at (616) 458-3994 to schedule a consultation, or to fill out our online contact form if you prefer to reach out to us electronically instead.

After you do, please consider downloading and filling out our Confidential Probate Questionnaire. It can provide us a great starting point.