Q: My mother recently died and all of her assets either had assigned beneficiaries or were TOD transfers except one stock.
The one stock was split from another stock and my mother did not have time to assign a TOD beneficiary. I have 2 brothers and we have agreed to sell the stock and have the proceeds deposited into my mother's checking account in which we are all equal beneficiaries. What is the easiest way to go about this in Michigan. The value of the stock is approx $60,000. Can we avoid formal probate?
A: An asset of that value probably cannot be assigned without probate absent pre-planning no matter how you 'agree' upon things. HOWEVER the 'formal probate process' is not as daunting as you might have been lead to believe ...
There are many who try to scare people about what probate entails, but frankly, if you find a local attorney to help you through the process, it can be fairly easy to process and can be finished pretty quickly. Seek local representation in the county where your mother resided at the time of her passing, and go from there. For a few hundred dollars you should be able to manage this with a local attorney.
-- This answer is offered for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney/client relationship.
I am licensed to practice in Michigan only. Please seek competent local legal help if you feel you need legal advice
A: It is a technical answer. The answer to your question you can avoid Formal probate but you cannot avoid probate court. If there is no family issues whether there is a will or not you can complete an informal probate administration. Since the asset is in your mother's name only the only way to access is through probate.
Normally we would prepare the legal documents and have a courier file them with the court. Depending on what county, the new process may require us to mail the pleading to the court. Upon filing, the court will issue a certified Letters of Authority in your name. The Letters of Authority verifies your authority to act as the Personal Representative of your sister’s estate. This will give you the authority to open deal with the stock. or other assets.. You are also required to obtain a taxpayer identification number (EIN) for the Estate. The EIN is the same thing as a social security number but for estates. The letter of authority and the tax ID number is what the bank and other financial companies will require to give you access and information to the account.
Your mother's Estate must remain open for at least five months. Four of those five months fall under what is known as the creditor period. The creditor period begins when a Notice to Creditors is published, which is mandatory for every decedent estate. The notice is published in the County Legal News to give any potential creditors an opportunity to file a claim against the Estate. If no claims have been filed by the end of the Creditor Period, any creditors that may be out of luck and they usually no longer have the right to make a claim.
The Personal Representative of the Estate, must file an inventory with the court. The inventory lists the assets that are being administered through the Estate. An inventory is due 91 days after the date one is appointed Personal Representative. The court requires an inventory fee, which is calculated using the value of the assets in the Estate. The Estate’s funds may be used to pay the inventory fee. After the Creditor Period, claims are either denied or allowed, an accounting is prepared and any distributions can be made.
The costs that are incurred in every administration are $175 filing fee, $15 letters of authority and $100 publication fee plus reasonable attorney fees.
Feel free to reach out to me with questions or if I can be of assistance. Probate when the two of you get along is not difficult or expensive.
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