If my aunt just passed away without a Will, can 1 of her surviving sisters and brother-in-law avoid going through probate proceedings since her assets were less than $10,000?

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If my aunt just passed away without a Will, can 1 of her surviving sisters and brother-in-law avoid going through probate proceedings since her assets were less than $10,000?

She was never married and had no children but did have 8 surviving siblings. She rented an apartment, had no credit card debt, owned no property other than an old truck. She had a life insurance policy but I believe that the beneficiary of those proceeds is not obligated to pay the funeral expenses.Her truck is only titled in her name. She resided with this sister and brother-in-law on and off for 20 years.

Asked on November 28, 2014 under Estate Planning, Michigan

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  If she passed with out a Will then she is said to have passed "intestate" and the intestacy laws of the state will apply.  Under the facts here and the law her siblings inherit everything, except as you indicated, the insurance policy that had a named beneficiary. Some one - and that could be you - could apply to be the personal representative of her estate in order to be able to sell and transfer title to the truck and cash checks but Michigan does have a small estate proceeding that allows you to skip probate all together when assets are below a certain amount.  This is called an out-of-court affidavit available in Michigan if the estate does not include real estate, and the value of the entire estate, less liens and encumbrances, doesn't exceed $15,000. There is a 28-day waiting period. Mich. Comp. Laws § 700.3983.  I am going to give you a link to explain how this can be done (it is a specific county link but the general ideas are there).  Good luck.

http://www.oakgov.com/courts/probate/Documents/in-house/3-disp-small-estates.pdf


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