This page is meant to provide you with general information in regards to small estates. Please note: Our staff is prohibited by law from giving you legal advice. Please consult an attorney if you require assistance.
Michigan law (MCL 700.3982) allows small estates to be probated using an expedited process if the balance of the gross estate after payment of the decedent's funeral and burial expenses is $15,000 or less. This amount is adjusted annually for inflation beginning on January 1st, 2000, and has increased to $24,000 as of January 1st, 2021. (See the table of values listed at the bottom of this page) Liens or debts are not subtracted in calculating the value of the estate. Liens/mortgages against a piece of real property must be listed, however, for purposes of calculating the inventory fee.
In this process, the funeral home will be assigned the amount of the bill if the funeral bill has not been paid, with the remaining assets divided equally among the heirs. The terms of the decedent’s will are not carried out, and no Personal Representative is appointed. (However, if the decedent had a will, by law, it must be filed with the Probate Court in the county of residence of the decedent.)
Filing fee: $25
Inventory fee: Mandated inventory fee based on value of the estate (contact the court for this amount)
Certified court order: $12, if order is one page front and back ($.50 for each additional page attached to the order)
We accept cash, check, or money order. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the Grand Traverse County Probate Court. We do not accept credit or debit cards.
A copy of the death certificate that has been signed by the county clerk. The death certificate must show that the decedent was a resident of Grand Traverse County. The exception is if the decedent lived outside of Michigan but had property in Grand Traverse County; this is acceptable.
A copy of the funeral and burial bills/receipts from the funeral home, whether the bill is paid or unpaid. The bill must show who paid and the amount they paid. A funeral bill that simply says "Paid" or "0 balance owed" is not sufficient. If the bill has not been paid, the bill must reflect the balance that is owed.
Completing the forms:
Petition and Order for Assignment:
A description and gross value must be given of all property solely held by the decedent as of the date of death.
For real property, determine the value by doubling the State Equalized Value (SEV) located on the tax bill. List the lien/mortgage amount, if there is one.
For bank accounts, include the bank name, location, and account number.
For stocks and bonds, list the corporation and number of shares.
"Blue book" values for vehicles are acceptable.
If anyone paid any part of the funeral bill, that person must be listed in #4, along with the amount they paid.
Michigan law is very specific on how a small estate may be assigned.
The court will order that the property be used to pay any funeral and burial expenses first. (or to reimburse the person who paid those expenses)
The court will order that the remaining property be assigned to the decedent's spouse or to the decedent's heirs, if there is no spouse.