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What is intestate succession?

Losing a loved one can be devastating, but it can be even harder when your family member or spouse has passed away without leaving a will. While you are grieving, you hardly want to spend your time caught up in legal battles over division of the estate between surviving family members. Is there a legal precedent that allows for fair and equitable handling of your deceased loved one's estate under Michigan law?

The answer is Michigan's intestate succession law. The law, as described by the Wayne County Probate Court of Detroit, takes effect when a person dies without leaving a will. Their estate shall be assessed minus any taxes, debts, exempt property and family allowances, and then distributed to living relatives according to a hierarchy of who is or is not eligible to receive a portion of the estate. You may be eligible if your relation to the deceased was that of spouse, children, siblings, parents or grandparents.

The amount awarded is dependent on the relationship. For example, the spouse may receive all benefits if they are the only surviving relative. If the spouse and the deceased's parents both survive but there are no living children, then the spouse would receive $150,000 in initial amount plus three quarters of the value of whatever portion of the estate remains, while the final one quarter would be awarded to the deceased's parents. The more living relatives that qualify as beneficiaries, the more complex the division of the estate becomes.

This is a reference blog only, and should not be misconstrued as actionable legal advice.

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