My condolences to you on the loss of your brother. When your brother passed away and didn’t have a beneficiary listed on his account, the probate court steps in to direct where the money in his account will go. Thankfully Michigan has as “Small Estate Probate” procedure that allows you to take care of this in a faster method than a normal probate.

Some of the benefits of the Small Estate procedure are that you don’t have a court hearing, the filing fees are less and the process is much quicker. To qualify for this type of estate the total value of assets would need to be $22,000 or less once you subtract off the cost of the funeral. The first thing paid out of the assets is the cost of the burial and funeral expenses. This expense can be paid directly to the funeral home or a person who has already paid for the funeral. The second thing is distribution of the remaining assets. This will depend on whether he was married, whether he had children, if your parents are still living, and some other factors. The priority is generally spouse, then children, then parents, then siblings.

If you need help filing a small estate, you can contact us at 517-548-7400.

Monika N. Burrell is an attorney with the law firm of Matecun, Thomas & Olson, PLC in Howell. She is an accredited attorney by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and focuses on estate planning, elder law, senior Veterans’ benefits, probate and trust administration. Visit us at The information in this column is not intended as legal advice.

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