Q: as an heir do I have a right to know how the will is meant to be distributed ?
When probate is not an issue, and there are only two heirs, one being the executor, how long should I be expected to wait for an accounting and distribution of the will ?
First question to ascertain is whether there even needs to be a probate estate opened. Many people die with wills but otherwise have all their assets either owned jointly or with beneficiary designations that control the distribution of assets over anything in the will.
A common example (and problem) is when a parent dies owning a home that only one of the children is also named on the deed. In such a situation, that child would then own the house regardless of what the will says, without the need for probate.
You can certainly demand to see the will, and if fact the person in possession of a valid will for a deceased individual should submit it to the appropriate probate court for filing.
In Michigan, as in many jurisdictions, there are specific procedures and rights associated with wills and their distribution:
Probate: When a will is submitted to the probate court for administration, it becomes a public record. This means any interested party, including heirs and beneficiaries, can request and review a copy of the will.
Notice: Michigan law requires that certain "interested persons" (which usually includes heirs) be notified of certain proceedings related to the decedent's estate. This includes being informed about the existence of the will, its submission to the probate court, and other proceedings related to its administration.
Distributions: As an heir, you have a right to know if and how you are meant to receive assets from the decedent's estate. If you are named as a beneficiary in the will, you should be informed about the specific distribution provisions that apply to you.
Challenging the Will: If you have concerns about the will's validity (e.g., concerns about the decedent's capacity when the will was executed, undue influence, fraud), you have a right to challenge the will in court. To do this effectively, you would typically need to know the contents of the will and how assets are meant to be distributed.
However, if you are simply curious or believe you might be an heir but have not received any notifications or information, it would be wise to consult with an attorney. They can help determine if you have a rightful claim or interest and assist you in obtaining relevant information from the estate's executor or personal representative.
Always remember that this is a general overview, and laws and procedures can evolve. Consult with an estate planning attorney in Michigan for the most current and relevant advice.
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