Deceased Estates


An estate must be filed in the county in which the decedent lived at the time of death. If the decedent was domiciled outside of Michigan, but had property in Michigan, the petitioner may file an estate in the county where decedent's property was located at the time of death. 

My relative died, what do I need to do?  

First you need to determine if the relative had any assets held solely in his/her name. If so, probate proceedings will be necessary. The value of any assets will determine the manner in which you will proceed. 

I am named the executor in the Will. Why do I need to open a deceased estate?  

An "executor" is another term for a personal representative. A Will only nominates a personal representative.  The personal representative does not have the power to act on behalf of the estate until appointed by the Probate Court. 

Do I have to open a deceased estate?  

Deceased estate administration is generally required when the decedent left assets titled solely in his/her name. You may wish to seek the advice of an attorney before seeking to open an estate.  

What must be probated?  

Any assets that are held solely in the decedent's name.

How do I open a safe deposit box?

If the box was in the decedent's name only, you must request permission from the Probate Court. The location of the box must be in Berrien County. You will need to submit to the Probate Court a Petition and Order to Open Safe Deposit Box (PC 551), death certificate, and a filing fee of $10.00 plus $11.00 for a certified copy of the Order.  

Why do I have to publish for creditors?  

Creditors have the right to file a claim against the estate for a limited period of time (within four months of publication). A personal representative must notify all known creditors of the death and publish for any unknown creditors.