Excluded from a Loved One's Probate Estate? Take Action.
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
There are often cases in probate where one family member attempts to administer the estate without telling other family members. Under Michigan probate law, there are rules that often require the person in charge of administering the estate to notify other family members and persons or entities of the probate proceedings. The person in charge of administering the estate is called the personal representative, and may be appointed under the terms of the will, by the court under the ordering rules, or subject to probate litigation.
Problems arise when the personal representative, often a child or spouse, fails or refuses to notify the decedent's children, siblings, or relatives of the probate proceeding. The personal representative is a fiduciary who is often obligated to notify persons with an interest in the estate, whether it be through a direct gift to an individual or a class of individuals like children. Failure to notify may subject the personal representative to liability to persons who should otherwise have been notified. Importantly, there is a statute of limitations to take action against a personal representative to recover property. If enough time passes, however, a person who is not notified may not have any recourse against the personal representative. This may eliminate the ability to challenge a will that the other party presents for probate or who can serve as the personal representative.
There may be cases where the estate is very small and a spouse may be entitled to the entire share of the estate after the estate administration fee and funeral expenses. In such cases, an heir may not be entitled to any property even if he or she were notified of the probate estate proceedings. But even in such a case, issues may arise where one party expects reimbursement for funeral costs and the personal representative fails to pay but should have. The probate process is a public process. If a person qualifies as an interested party, he or she may file a claim with the court to be notified of updates to the extent allowed by law.
If you believe you are entitled to receive updates regarding a probate proceeding or have not been notified yet, but believe you should have been, contact Michigan probate attorney Andrew Steiger for a free consultation to understand your rights related to receiving notice and updates for a probate proceeding. Steiger Tax Law can help you navigate the Michigan probate landscape and help give you peace of mind regarding your probate rights.