Chicago, IL asked in Probate for Michigan

Q: My mother passed last month, leaving no one as a beneficiary on her 401k.

My sisters and I were informed by Probate that we can not go the simplified process do to the amount. What steps need to be taken to receive her benefits from Fidelity. My sister is listed as the Power of Attorney, with another sister and myself, would this help the process?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Fowlerville, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: PoAs are ineffective after the principal dies so that means nothing. Did she have a will and was there a personal representative named in it?

If so that person has ‘priority’ to start probate. If not you and all your siblings — assuming your mom was unmarried at the time she passed — all have equal priority to start probate.

The process is fairly straightforward but the details are important and not ‘obvious’.

I’d urge you to consult with a local licensed probate attorney to help with the process. Probate MAY be needed but there might also be alternatives— that local attorney can analyze the situation and provide advice.

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