Michigan law provides a streamlined process for distributing the assets in a decedent's estate if the balance of the estate after payment of the funeral and burial expenses is $15,000.00 or less (adjusted for the cost-of-living; currently--2016--$22,000.00). The process is quick, inexpensive, and no court hearings are necessary. Informal Estates
Next to using the Small Estate procedures, probating a decedent's estate using informal proceedings is the easiest way to probate an estate. Some features of an informal probate are that no court hearings are necessary, a personal representative (sometimes referred to as an executor) is appointed by the court and given the authority to probate the estate, and most of the activities involved in probating the estate are done without court involvement. Formal Estates
Unsupervised administration of an estate may be conducted in informal or formal proceedings. While very similar to informal proceedings, probating a decedent's estate using formal proceedings provides the security of a court order deciding issues within the estate.
Supervised administration of an estate is available in some limited circumstances and provides for close oversight by the court over the probate process. Only a very small percentage of decedent's estates go through supervised proceedings.
Attorneys and the Probate Court: There is no legal requirement that people use an attorney for probate proceedings; however, it is highly recommended. Estate proceedings can be complex and difficult to understand. Be aware that clerks, by judicial decision of the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan, are not permitted to practice law or give legal advice. The State Bar of Michigan has a lawyer referral service.