What is Probate?

What is Probate?

Not to be confused with a person on probation, the Probate Court handles a decedent’s estate

You’ve heard the term, nodded appropriately, but do you really understand what probate means? Probate is often described as the process of taking care of a decedent’s estate. When someone dies, the probate issues concerning his or her estate can be complicated. Deciding how to legally disperse an estate and to whom, and/or to establish guardianship or conservatorship, falls to the Probate Court.


A Decedent is a person who is no longer living. To administer the decedent’s property that was left behind, the probate court will appoint a personal representative. Previously known as the  executor, the personal representative will utilize the decedent’s will or, if no will was created, Michigan law will determine how the estate will be distributed.

Special Needs

The Probate Court handles all legal action that is necessary when minors or adults with special needs, such as those with developmental disabilities, are in need of someone to act as their guardian for their care and custody or someone to act as conservator and manage their financial affairs.

  • Conservator: The probate court will appoint a conservator to protect an individual’s assets and financial affairs if they inherit items or funds during a time when he or she is a minor or an adult who does not have the capacity to handle these items alone.
  • Guardian: The probate court appoints a guardian to handle the care, custody, and control of a minor or adult (the Ward) that is either incapacitated or has a developmental disability. The guardian can make decisions on behalf of the ward for medical care, housing, and general wellbeing.


The Probate Court is also responsible for taking care of disputes in the administration of trusts, involuntary commitments and other miscellaneous issues that were not taken care of while the deceased individual was still alive. A trust offers benefits to the beneficiaries allowing them to avoid estate tax, avoid the court system, and can also provide Medicaid planning and protection for beneficiaries. The trust sets forth the terms under which its assets will be handled during the life of the person(s) establishing the trust (settlers) and how it will be distributed to the beneficiaries. A trustee is named in the trust and serves as a fiduciary whose job is to oversee and administer the terms of the trust.


Michigan Legal Solutions

services-imgOur experienced attorneys are committed to providing our clients with the guidance and support that they need to resolve their estate and probate issues. With over five decades serving clients in Southeastern Michigan, the attorneys of Michigan Legal Solutions (Seglund Gabe Quinn Elowsky & Pawlak, PLC) have the knowledge and resources to resolve your legal matters.

The laws pertaining to estates, administration of trusts, guardianship and other cases in Probate Court are complex and ever changing. Experienced legal counsel can help navigate the maze of procedures involved in handling a decedent’s estate, guardianship, conservatorship or trust. Contact our team today to set up an initial consultation.

Michigan Legal Solutions

28345 Beck Road, Suite 401
Wixom, MI 48393
Phone: (248) 869-0030
Fax: (248) 869-0039
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By | 2017-01-01T11:26:05+00:00 May 13th, 2015|Michigan Legal Solutions|Comments Off on What is Probate?
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