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Probate & Estate Planning Counsel
Call Christenson & Fiederlein, PC!

Flint Probate Attorney

Helping Clients in Genesee County with the Probate Process

Facing probate after the death of a loved one can be a long and complicated process. Distributing wealth, assets and property is only a small part of it. You also may have to deal with any debts or other unsettled legal issues.

Because of all the complexities that go along with probate, it is always a good idea to get an experienced estate planning and probate lawyer to help you navigate the legal process. In addition, if you are interested in arranging a trust that can help your loved ones avoid probate altogether, our team can make sure that everything is in order.

No one should have to deal with probate matters alone. Reach out to our probate lawyers in Flint, MI at (810) 292-3115.

How to Avoid Probate in Flint, MI

Many people want to know how they can avoid the probate process entirely. There are certain assets that automatically bypass probate, including:

  • Life Insurance
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Pensions
  • Wages or salary due to the deceased person
  • Bank accounts with a Payable-on-Death, or POD, designation
  • Stocks and bonds registered in a Transfer-on-Death, or TOD, form

Additionally, assets owned jointly with a spouse will generally not require probate.

For any assets that don't automatically avoid probate, you have the option to set up a living trust. These assets will pass to your named beneficiaries without needing to involve probate court.

Guiding Clients through Probate & Estate Administration

At Christenson & Fiederlein, PC, we guide our probate attorneys in Flint can guide you through probate and the estate administration process. This typically begins with the authentication of the deceased’s last will and testament in court. If no will was prepared or can be found, then the state’s intestate laws will determine how the remaining property in the estate will be distributed.

If you are named in someone’s will as the executor of their estate, the court will hold a proceeding to affirm this. A similar proceeding will take place in an intestate case, where a representative of the estate will be appointed by the court. The executor or representative will then post a bond to serve as a form of assurance that they will not engage in a breach of their fiduciary duty to the heirs of the estate.

During the course of several months to several years, in some cases, the executor then carries out important tasks, such as the following:

  • Locate and notify all beneficiaries named in the will and all possible legal heirs. Creditors of the deceased will also need to be notified.
  • Identify and inventory all assets and property belonging to the decedent’s estate and determine the total value. This will include accounting for bank and brokerage accounts, real estate, stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, vehicle titles, and more.
  • Pay valid claims made against the estate. These may include debts owed to mortgage lenders, credit card companies, utility companies, cell phone service providers, and essentially anyone to whom the decedent owed payment.
  • Prepare a final tax return and pay the estate’s tax bill.
  • If any property is leftover, distribute it as according to the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs according to the instructions in their will. If there is no will, property must be distributed according to intestacy laws.
  • The executor then finally submits receipts and records of everything to the court and requests the closure of the estate and to be released from the role of executor.

This is just an overview of the complicated process of administering an estate through probate. It’s advised that you seek legal counsel from a probate attorney in Flint like ours at Christenson & Fiederlein, PC to provide the guidance and support you need.

Are You Involved in a Probate Dispute?

Any disagreements that arise during probate may require litigation. This means you will need legal counsel to argue on behalf of your interests should you need to assert a claim or defend against one made by another party.

Probate litigation typically centers on concerns about the validity of a will. There are several reasons why a will may be challenged in court, such as the following:

  • The will was not properly witnessed or signed according to the state’s laws.
  • The will-maker lacked testamentary capacity at the time they signed the will (typically because of a condition such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, severe illness, or another form of incapacitation).
  • The will is a product of fraud or undue influence over the will-maker, which can include trickery, abuse, intimidation, isolation from other relatives, and other nefarious circumstances.
  • The will is an outright forgery.

The court may invalidate certain provisions of the will or the entire document depending upon the extent of the situation. Should the whole will be invalidated, probate will proceed as according to the state’s intestacy laws.

Other reasons for probate litigation may include contesting guardianships and conservatorships, or suing the fiduciary of someone’s estate for a breach of their obligations, such as engaging in self-dealing or fraud.

We Can Assist with Probate Appeals

An unfavorable judgment in probate court can be devastating for families who are already dealing with an exceedingly difficult time. If you believe there the probate court or judge made an error in a judgment countering your interests, you may appeal this decision.

At Christenson & Fiederlein, PC, our probate attorneys in Flint can provide the legal support you need to identify what went wrong during probate court proceedings or how a judge may have misinterpreted the law against your favor. It’s important to identify factors such as these because an appeals court is unlikely to hear a case where a litigant simply dislikes the outcome they received.

Let Our Flint Attorneys for Probate Help You

Whether you want to know how you can protect your estate from probate proceedings, or you need help understanding your rights and responsibilities as an executor or beneficiary, the attorneys at Christenson & Fiederlein, PC are prepared to assist you.

We provide personalized legal counsel on probate matters for clients throughout Genesee County. Call our Flint office today at (810) 292-3115.

Every Case Deserves Individual Attention Recent Reviews From Clients

  • Thanks for your efforts and hard work on my case.

    “Thanks for your efforts and hard work on my case. Also, thanks to all your staff for their professionalism. ”

    Megan Clark

  • I have retained the law firm of Christenson & Fiederlein, PC on numerous occasions & they are always efficient.

    “I have retained the law firm of Christenson & Fiederlein, PC on numerous occasions over the last several years to handle my landlord/tenant evictions in the Flint area. I have found the attorneys and their staff to be efficient and knowledgeable in handling these matters on my behalf. I would not hesitate to use and/or recommend this law firm in the future. ”

    John Fotenakes

  • You made all the difference!

    “I so much want to thank Christenson & Fiederlein for their help. I needed professional representation to help me with a difficult situation. They were very approachable and listened to my case. With their help my case was dismissed. What a relief. Thank you all for your help. You made all the difference!”

    Mary

  • Christenson & Fiederlein, PC are very knowledgeable and efficient!

    “I was the previous owner/manager of Quality Rental Management, LLC, a residential property management company and, as such, used the services of Christenson & Fiederlein, PC to handle my landlord/tenant matters including appearances for non-payment of rent, termination of tenancy matters, as well as procuring Orders of Eviction and coordinating the removal of hold-over tenants. Since selling my interest in Quality Rental Management, LLC, I have continued to use the law firm of Christenson & Fiederlein, PC as my attorney for other business and personal needs including evictions. I have found the staff of Christenson & Fiederlein, PC to be knowledgeable and efficient with regard to the execution of these matters and I will continue to use those services if necessary. Curt McIntosh is the owner at McIntosh Building, LLC. ”

    Curt McIntosh