What Happens Under Michigan Law if I Die Without a Will?
If a person dies without a will in the state of Michigan, or dies intestate, then the person’s assets are divided in accordance with Michigan intestacy laws. These laws set forth a particular order, or succession, in which family members will inherit assets from a person who dies intestate. A probate court that is administering the person’s estate will identify heirs to any assets through the laws of intestate succession.
First, a surviving spouse receives preference over all other surviving relatives in an intestacy situation. If the deceased person has no surviving parents or descendants, then the surviving spouse is the sole heir. On the other hand, if the deceased has a surviving parent and a surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse will receive the first share of the estate, along with three-quarters of the remaining balance of the value of the estate, with the other quarter of the remaining balance going to the surviving parent. If the deceased has a surviving spouse and surviving descendants, then the spouse will receive the first share, whose value varies according to whether the surviving descendants are shared by the surviving spouse or not. After this first share is distributed, the remaining balance of the value of the estate is divided equally between the spouse and the children. The amount of first share is indexed annually under Michigan law for cost-of-living increases.
If the decedent does not leave a spouse behind, then the assets of the estate are distributed in the following order:
- If there is no surviving spouse, then the assets go to the decedent’s descendants, or the decedent’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren
- If there are no surviving descendants, then the assets go to the decedent’s parents
- If there are no surviving descendants or parents, then the assets go to the descendants of the decedent’s parents, or the decedent’s brothers and sisters, nieces or nephews, and great-nieces or great-nephews
- If the decedent has none of the surviving relatives listed above, then half of the assets go to the decedent’s maternal grandparents and their descendants, and half to the decedent’s paternal grandparents and their descendants
- If there are no grandparents or descendants available to take the assets on one side of the family, then the value of the entire estate would pass to the other side of the family as indicated
There is also a very complex system under Michigan law for determining exactly how the assets are divided among the available surviving relatives of the decedent. Plus, there are some exclusionary rules that are designed to prevent a decedent’s distant relatives from inheriting the value of his or estate.
If you or a family member is in a situation where a death occurs without a will, there are legal steps that you need to take in order to resolve this situation. Since this situation can quickly become complex, you need an attorney who can provide you the help necessary to get through it. At the Law Offices of The Elder Law Firm PC, our Grand Rapids elder law attorneys can help you through any necessary legal proceedings that might arise from a death without a will.