Burton, MI asked in Probate for Michigan

Q: Can personal rep also be creditor of an unsupervised estate if all other heirs agree and all estate bills will be paid.

It would be for deceased person's final expenses (way less than the cost of an "average" funeral) paid out of jointly owned checking account with the personal rep having right of survivorship and proven food expense for last three years of deceased person's life paid for by the personal rep's credit card. All other entities with claims, the credit card companies and local, state, and federal government, will be paid. Personal rep cared for 99 yr old mom for 18 years with next to no help from other sibling, the only other heir, and she provided nursing home level of care for 3 years during the pandemic singlehandedly in the mom's house for no pay. The other sibling will not contest these two creditor claims by the personal rep. And the only other heir understands she can have the unsupervised probate case can be turned into a supervised case at any time she wishes.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Trent Harris
Trent Harris
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Jackson, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: The problem the personal representative has is that where someone provides money, goods, or services to another family member, those things are presumed to be gifts, unless there is some sort of legal agreement between them that those things are not just being provided gratis. So if there is no agreement, filing a claim for those expenses would be on shaky legal ground. And also the personal representative would have a conflict of interest in paying that claim, as both the person claiming an expense and the person who is approving it.

If the personal representative wants to be paid for expenses of care provided to the decedent in the deceased's final years, the better course might be to enter a written agreement to alter distributive shares with the other heirs or devisees of the estate. If they all consent, then that would protect the personal representative because he/she could get the other people's written agreement that yes, everyone agrees personal representative should be paid X from the estate. That wouldn't require filing a legally shaky claim, doesn't involve a conflict of interest as long as everybody is fully informed, and would be cleaner way to go.

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