Handling Your Loved One's Affairs

In Probate Proceedings and Trust Administration, getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible is important for all parties involved. Our process is designed to ensure that your trust, estate, guardianship or conservatorship is administered as quickly as possible given the needs of the beneficiaries, heirs, wards, and the all legal requirements.

Guardians and Conservators: Reasons for Appointment

When children under 18 lose their parents due to death or incarceration, or when a person is no longer able to manage his or her personal affairs due to incapacity, the Probate Court may be asked to take action to protect these people. The Court will usually look to the last surviving parent’s Will for priority in nominating a “fiduciary” to make personal or financial decisions that are in the best interest of the child or incapacitated person. The types of fiduciaries that can be appointed are a Guardian or Conservator, with their powers being full or limited depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.

Generally speaking, a Guardian is responsible for taking care of your child’s physical well-being and a Conservator is responsible for taking care of the assets you have set aside to provide for your child. While many times these are the same person, often it is a good idea to name separate people to be checks and balances on one another. Otherwise, a person seeking to be appointed guardian or conservator can make his or her case in the petition for appointment as guardian or conservator, as is the case when an adult child or other close family member seeks appointment as a Guardian or Conservator. Oftentimes, a medical institution or creditor may seek appointment so that they can get paid and may ask that the Probate Court appoint an independent conservator for that purpose. When medical decisions need to be made and no patient advocate designation has been executed, then a guardian may be appointed for that purpose.

Petitioning for the Appointment of a Guardian or Conservator

A guardian or conservator is appointed much the same way a personal representative is appointed in a decedent’s estate’s case, which is by filing a petition with the probate court in the county of residence of the child or incapacitated person. The court will review the facts and circumstances and determine whether there is an “incapacity” such that the person “is impaired by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, or other cause, not including minority, to the extent of lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate informed decisions.” A mentally disabled person is not always treated as fully incapacitated, and the court will look at other factors under the Mental Health Code in those instances. If the appointment is uncontested, the process is relatively smooth. When it is contested, however, the court will hear evidence from competing experts on the subject and may appoint an independent conservator or guardian while the case is pending.

Role of Lawyer in the Appointment Process

The main purpose of an attorney is to help the petitioner meet all of the requirements of the court. An experienced probate attorney will help speed up the process and ensure that the filings with the court are complete, the experts provide sufficient investigation and testimony to support an appointment, and will provide guidance as needed to conservators regarding when various notices, inventories, and accountings must be filed.

Free Initial Consultations

Please call or email us today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you with this process. Want to speed up the process? Fill out our downloadable probate questionnaire and submit it before scheduling an appointment!

Free Initial Consultations
Please call or email us to schedule a free initial consultation to learn more about how we can help you work through this process before it becomes a burden. Want to speed up the process? Fill out our Probate Questionnaire or Trust Administration Questionnaire and submit it before scheduling an appointment!

Services
Probate of Wills for Decedents
Conservatorships / Guardianships in Probate Court
Trust Administration

Efficient and Expert Advice
In Probate and Trust administration, getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible is important for all parties involved. However, with all of the requirements under the Michigan Estates and Individuals Code and the Michigan Trust Code, it can be a very difficult process to navigate on your own. Our process is designed to ensure that your trust or estate is administered as quickly as possible given the needs of the beneficiaries and the requirements of the laws.

Nobody wants to talk about death. It is uncomfortable to think about our own passing, and it is painful to think about losing a loved one. That is completely normal. However, it is important to know what to do if and when that day comes.

I think it is better to be prepared now, rather than wait until it is too late. If you’re the personal representative or trustee of an estate then there are three things you need to do right away.

1. Exert your power. Make it clear that you were the one left in charge of the estate, and that you will be the one making any decisions that need to be made. Unfortunately, sometimes people are horrible – we have seen cases where families completely emptied out the home while the trustee was still making funeral arrangements. Sometimes people take a thing here or there, so you need to be in charge of the situation.

2. Secure Possession of Documents and Assets. Take inventory and control of the assets, gather statements, get the house secured, etc. You may need to change locks, change passwords, and alert banks, credit card companies, employers, etc. of your loved one’s passing to help avoid the estate or trust from being a victim of fraud. Unfortunately, most of the fraud comes from untrustworthy family members, so they may have a head start if you delay taking action. It is much easier to ask for forgiveness for locking Aunt Myrtle out of your mother’s house than to explain to the beneficiaries where everything in the house went.

3. Meet with Advisors. Meet with the advisors that were selected in the estate plan or that were utilized by your loved one. They are there to advise you on how to proceed. After you have done these things you can begin to start the process of carrying out the will. If you’ve recently lost a loved one and you’re in charge of managing their affairs, give us a call and schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.

Call us at (800) 667-5291 to schedule your FREE strategy session today.

Probate is a confusing process. Most people don’t know how it goes unless they’ve been through it with a loved one’s estate. Read on for a few common myths.

1. It is to be avoided at all costs. This isn’t true simply because situations can vary wildly. If your estate is simple, it may not be worth it to avoid probate. However, if your estate is complicated, it is much more important to establish a workaround. Attorney Shawn Eyestone explains what could happen in probate if things are not as straightforward as they seem.
2. You don’t have to do probate if you have a trust. Though trusts are often used to help people avoid probate, they must be used correctly. If you don’t fund your trust correctly, for instance, your estate will still go through probate. Also, there are some simple probate forms for vehicles and other assets that are often a better option than using a trust for those assets.
3. A family member can handle probate on their own. Though technically, as with other legal situations, a person could represent themselves in probate, this is a very bad idea. Generally, anyone who needs to put a loved one’s estate through probate should hire an attorney.

If you’re looking for answers to your questions about probate or any other part of the estate planning process, call us at 800-667-5291 or click here to contact us today.

1

Free Consultation

Schedule a Free Initial Infinite Legacy Planning Session to discuss your goals and create an action plan for protection for your family or for your business.

2

Information Gathering

Complete and return the questionnaire and bring the related documents to your Infinite Legacy Planning Session.

3

Design

We will work with you to design and create a comprehensive Infinite Legacy Plan to implement the action plan designed for your family or business.

4

Legacy Creation

We will meet with you, your advisors, and your family on a regular basis to ensure that your plan is understood, up to date, and carried out.

Grand Rapids Area Office

3083 Washington Ave, Suite A
Grandville, MI 49418
#616-777-5291

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Muskegon Area Office

800 East Ellis Road, #511
Muskegon, MI 49441
#231-683-1000

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