Small Estates and Transfers by Affidavit
Transfer by Affidavit
An estate that does not include real property may qualify for transfer by affidavit. Twenty-eight days or more following the decedent's death, a person holding the decedent's property must deliver it to the decedent's successor when the successor presents the death certificate and a sworn statement. MCL § 700.3983. The sworn statement form is titled Affidavit of Decedent's Successor for Delivery of Certain Assets Owned by Decedent (PC 598), and must be signed before a notary public. The Affidavit must confirm the following:
- The estate does not include real property;
- The estate value, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed the annual cost-of-living adjustment, which may be found here: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/treasury/CostOfLivingAdjustmentsToEstatesAndProtectedIndividuals_345035_7.pdf
- 28 days have passed since the decedent's death;
- An application or petition for appointment of personal representative is not pending or has not been granted;
- The successor is entitled to the payment or delivery of the property;
- The name and address of any other person that is entitled to a share of the property and the portion to which each is entitled;
The term "successor" includes one who is eligible to take under the exempt property and allowances provisions of the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC), and those who are entitled to assets under the intestate succession provision of EPIC.
Petition and Order for Assignment (Small Estate)
When a decedent's estate is small enough, Michigan law allows the estate to be probated using an expedited process that does not require the appointment of a personal representative, takes no notice of any will, and results in a Court Order assigning assets. MCL § 700.3982. If the balance of the gross estate after the payment of the decedent's funeral and burial expense does not exceed the cost-of-living adjustment, the contents of the estate may be distributed to heirs using the Petition and Order for Assignment (PC 556). For someone passing away in 2015, the maximum estate value is $22,000 or less.
Upon a showing of evidence, satisfactory to the court, that the decedent's funeral or burial expenses are unpaid or were paid by a person other than the estate, the Court shall order that the property be first used to pay the unpaid funeral and burial expenses, or to reimburse the person that paid those expenses, and may order that the balance be turned over to the surviving spouse or, if there is no spouse, to the decedent's heirs. MCL § 700.3983(2). Funeral and burial expenses are those expenses directly connected with a funeral or memorial service and with the burial or cremation of the body. Funeral and burial expenses must be accounted for by a bill from the funeral home.
A description and value must be given of all property within the decedent’s estate. Any liens, encumbrances, or mortgages on real estate can be used to reduce the property’s value listed on the form. For bank accounts, indicate the name of the bank, the account number(s), and the balance at the date of death. For stocks and bonds, indicate the name of the corporation, number of shares, price per share, and total value at the date of death. For autos, trucks, boats, etc., include a description and the vehicle number. For real estate, list the complete legal description, and not simply the street address.
Other than a surviving spouse who qualifies for allowances under this act or minor children of the decedent, an heir who receives property through an order under this section is responsible, for 63 days from the date of the order, for any unsatisfied debt of the decedent up to the value of the property received through the order. MCL § 700.3983(3).
You must include, along with the signed Petition, a copy of the decedent’s death certificate. There is a filing fee (refer to Fee Schedule on this page). There is a fee for your certified copy of the Order (refer to the Fee Schedule on this page), and a statutorily-mandated inventory fee based on the value of the estate. Only an heir or the individual who paid the funeral bill may file this petition.
**If the only asset remaining in the estate is a motor vehicle, the Secretary of State may be able to transfer title directly without a Court order**