Decedent Estates - Grand Traverse County Probate Court

When Is Probate Required?

Generally speaking, probate is only necessary when a person dies leaving property solely in his or her own name (such as a house titled only in the name of the decedent) or having rights to receive property (such as wrongful death claim or a debt owed to the decedent). However, not all property in which the decedent has an interest will be subject to probate. There are 4 kinds of property which pass to a new owner on death without going through probate. For more information, view the Property Transferred Without Probate page.

Principal Residence Exemption & Decedent's Real Property

The principal residence exemption may need to be rescinded on the decedent's real property. For additional information see the Grand Traverse County Treasurer page and the Michigan Department of Treasury website.

Types of Estates

The following are the different types of estates:

Unsupervised - Informal probate 

- permits the Personal Representative (PR) to act in a manner independent of the court unless intervention is requested by the PR or an interested person (such as an unpaid creditor or an estate beneficiary). 

Supervised - Formal Probate

This requires the probate court's review and approval of much of the estate activities. For example, in supervised administration the court would be required to:
  • Approve the sale of the decedent's real estate (unless the decedent's will authorizes the PR to do so)
  • Authorize the payment of PR and attorney fees
  • Devisees (people receiving property under a will)
  • Prior approval of all distributions to heirs (people receiving property from the estate if there is no will)
  • Review the Personal Representative's accounting of all receipts and disbursements

Small Estates

This is a simplified procedure for distributing small estates if the balance of the gross estate after payment of the decedent's funeral and burial expense consists of property of $15,000 or less.  The $15,000 is computed by adding the fair market value of all property of the decedent as of the date of death.  The $15,000 amount is adjusted annually for inflation beginning on January 1, 2001, and has increased to $24,000 as of January 1, 2021.

Upon presentation of a petition and payment of the filing fee, the probate court may order that the funeral expenses be paid, if they have not been paid, or that the person who paid them be reimbursed. The balance of the property will be assigned to the surviving spouse or, if none, to the decedent's heirs under Michigan's law of intestate succession. No court hearing is held. 

If the decedent had a will, please note that in this process, the terms of the will are not carried out. However, if the decedent had a will, by law, it must be filed with the Probate Court, per MCL 700.2516. If you want the terms of the will carried out, you must file an informal or formal probate. View Small Estate (Petition and Order for Assignment) for more information.


  • Affidavit of decedent's successor for delivery of certain assets owned by decedent
If an estate is under $24,000 in value, has no real property, and it has been more than 28 days after a decedent's date of death, you may be able to use this form, PC598 (PDF), to present to an institution to obtain the funds (i.e., bank, stock company).