How to avoid losing everything to probate after your loved one dies

Posted at 5:02 PM, May 04, 2017

The 7 Investigators first exposed how some public officials and real estate brokers are cashing in by selling homes after someone dies, often leaving the rightful heirs with very little in the estate.

7 Investigator Heather Catallo sat down on Facebook Live to answer your questions regarding probate issues, as well as wills and trusts.

Check out some of the questions and the Facebook live below.

Question – I have a will, does that mean my estate won’t go to probate?

Answer – No, if you have a will you still have to go to probate. The only time you’re not going to go to probate is if you have a trust. If you have a will, your estate will still be probated, but whomever you designated to be your personal representative, they need to get that will filed with the court and they need to open that estate before someone else can. In Michigan, these public administrators are using this 42-day rule, which really is a creditor rule. But after 42 days, if you, or your heirs haven’t opened the estate, then someone else can. So even if you have a will, your heirs could get stuck in probate.

Q – I understand a trust is better?

A – That is my understanding as well, probably a good way to avoid probate in general. Of course none of this is 100 percent. There are exceptions to the rule, but make sure you get good counsel on this.

Also, make sure you’re talking to your kids, your heirs, and your spouse so that this doesn’t end up happening so you don’t have a public administrator taking a majority of your assets.

Q – What if I quick claim deed my home to my kids?

A – That’s good, but my understanding is you’re still going to have to make sure that’s spelled out and that someone opens the estate. So contact a probate attorney that you can trust to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Because even with the quick claim deeds, we’re seeing examples where the public administrators with the realtors were still opening the estate and trying to take the property, then those folks having to hire attorneys and go through the whole process.

Q – My mom quick-deeded my house to me, what else do I need before she passes?

A – I think you obviously should talk to an attorney. That’s good that your mom did that for you. Make sure it’s all spelled out, you’re still going to potentially need to go through probate. If it’s a smaller value estate, you may not need to open an estate. Don’t just assume that you’re going to be fine with your name on the house.