You either went to an attorney or legalzoom.com, perhaps even Suzie Orman, and you purchased and executed a will. So what does that mean? Assuming the will was properly executed and is a valid and enforceable instrument, then lets consider the following effects of having a will after your death.
First, having a will does not allow your estate to avoid probate. Remember, Probate is that special place where all one’s assets and liabilities go after they die if one does not have said assets in a fully funded living trust. “‘Estate’ includes the property of the decedent, trust, or other person whose affairs are subject to this act as the property is originally constituted and as it exists throughout administration.” MCL 700.1104(b).
Second, a personal representative will need to be appointed to “probate” one’s estate. A personal representative is nominated in one’s will and has the highest priority in becoming personal representative. MCL 700.3203. Part 5 of this series will discuss the ways to open a probate estate.
Third, because one’s estate is administered through probate, the assets minus certain liabilities of the estate are subject to an “inventory” fee. see MCL 700.3706 and MCR 5.307(A). Lets say one has $150,000 worth of property, and $50,000 in qualified debt on said property. The inventory fee will be based on $100,000 in value, or $363. Here is a sample website to show fee calculations – plug your net worth in and see how much you would have to pay: https://www.kalcounty.com/courts/probate/inventory.asp.
Last, a probate proceeding is a public case and the affairs of a family may be exposed for all to see. This is generally not a concern for many, but some families do prefer privacy.
Part 5 of our Understanding Probate Series will discuss “How do I open a probate estate?”