Detroit, MI asked in Probate for Michigan

Q: What is the order of inheritance if no will exists? Children.. grandchildren..etc

My family has lived in, and cared for, my wife's father's home for four years. We planned on making an offer to buy it several years from now, however her entire immediate family has come down with covid and things are not looking good. After a little digging, we found that this property is actually in her grandparent's name instead of her father's. Grandparents are soon to pass away, and there's potential of her father doing the same- all due to covid.

We're concerned that her great aunt may attempt to take the property should the grandparents pass, and her father.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Fowlerville, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: The ‘order of inheritance’ is spelled out in

The bottom line is that if it is in the name of someone no longer alive, probate should have been started but if it isn’t the priority to begin probate lies with a surviving spouse or blood relatives. As a relative through marriage only you don’t figure in. Your wife may, but only if there are no closer relatives to the deceased.

Bottom line, you need to consult with a local probate attorney ASAP to get the best idea of what you should do next.

— This answer is offered for information only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please seek local legal representation.

Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Things can get really complicated when a probate matter spans multiple generations. The succession of the house is made more complex by the need to account for potential medicaid / long term care issues; and that's assuming everyone is competent.

There are options available, depending on what everyone wants to see happen. If nothing is done, then who has interest in the house depends on how many siblings the father has. And for any of his siblings who may already be deceased, their children become a factor.

Think of intestate succession (dying without a will or estate plan) as a plus sign. The surviving spouse gets pretty much everything; if no spouse, then everything goes down to the children, evenly. The share for any predeceased children gets further split by the number of children they have. If no spouse and no children, then parents - if they happen to be alive. Only after all that would siblings come into play. So it's a long shot for the great aunt. But it's not going to be fun going through multiple probate administrations.

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