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Informal Proceedings from Beginning to Registrar's Statement

Informal proceeding are commenced by filing an application directed to the register. The application may be for informal probate (informal admission of a will) or appointment of a personal representative or both. Informal proceedings are defined in EPIC to mean proceedings for probate of a will or appointment of a personal representative conducted by the probate register without notice to interested persons. This material will deal only with informal proceedings. Formal proceedings or a request for supervised administration will be covered in subsequent notes. Only an "interested person" may file an application for informal probate or appointment or both. Interested person is defined very broadly by MCL 700.1105(a): "interested person" includes, but is not limited to, an heir, devisee, child, spouse, creditor, and beneficiary and any other person that has a property right in or claim against a trust estate or the estate of a decedent, ward, or protected individual; a person that has priority for appointment as personal representative; and a fiduciary representing an interested person. There are two important terms that should probably be briefly defined now. Devisee is a person designated to receive property in a will. Heir is a person who is entitled under the statute of intestate succession to a decedent's property - this term will be more fully explained in subsequent notes. The forms and documents which must be filed with or presented to the register to commence an informal proceeding are: 1. Application For Informal Probate and/or Appointment of Personal Representative (Testate/Intestate) (PC 558) and the filing fee of $150. The application should be completely and carefully filled out. 2. Will and codicil, if any. 3. Testimony to Identify Heirs and Devisee Heirs (PC 565). 4. Supplemental Testimony to Identify Nonheirs Devisees (Testate Estate) (PC 566). This form is only filed if decedent left a will and some of the devisees named in the will and codicils are not heirs of the testator. 5. Register's Statement (PC 568). 6. Acceptance of Appointment (PC 571). A bond is not required unless the will requires a bond or bond is demanded under MCL 700.3605 (by person having an interest in the estate worth in excess of $2,500 or a creditor having a claim against the estate in excess of $2,500). 7. Letters of Authority for Personal Representative (PC 572). Persons who are not disqualified have priority for appointment in the following order pursuant to MCL 700.3203(1): 1. The person with priority as determined by a probated will including a person nominated by a power conferred in a will. 2. The surviving spouse if the spouse is a devisee under the will. 3. Other devisees. 4. The surviving spouse. 5. Other heirs. 6. After 42 days after the decedent's death, the nominee of a creditor if the court determines the nominee suitable. 7. State or county public administrator. 8. A person with priority under 2 through 5 above may nominate a qualified person to serve as personal representative and that nominee has the priority of the nominator pursuant to MCL 700.3203(3). Under MCL 700.3310 an applicant seeking appointment in an informal proceeding must give notice to each person having a prior or equal right to appointment who has not waived the right. Such a waiver may be accomplished by filing a Waiver and Consent (PC 561). The applicant must also serve a copy of the application on those persons pursuant to MCR 5.309(C). The notice and service of the application must be made at least 14 days by mail or publication or 7 days by personal service prior to appointment. A proof of service must also be filed with the court pursuant to MCR 5.309(C)(3). In an informal proceeding for original probate of a will, MCL 700.3303(1) requires that the register shall determine whether all of the following are true: 1. The application is complete. 2. The applicant has made oath or affirmation that the statements contained in the application are true to the best of the applicant's knowledge and belief. 3. The applicant appears from the application to be an interested person. 4. On the basis of the statements in the application, venue is proper. 5. An original, properly executed, and apparently unrevoked will is in the register's possession. 6. That the application is not within section 3304. This section provides that the register shall deny an application for informal probate if the probate relates to 1 or more of a known series of testamentary instruments, not including a will and 1 or more codicils to that will, the latest of which instrument does not expressly revoke the earlier. In informal appointment proceedings, MCL 700.3308(1) requires that the register shall determine whether all of the following are true: 1. The application for the personal representative's informal appointment is complete. 2. The applicant has made oath or affirmation that the statements contained in the application are true to the best of the applicant's knowledge and belief. 3. The applicant appears from the application to be an interested person. 4. On the basis of the statements in the application, venue is proper. 5. A will to which the requested appointment relates has been formally or informally probated. This subdivision does not apply to the appointment of a special personal representative. 6. The person whose appointment is sought has priority to the appointment or the requirements of section 3310 (explained previously) have been satisfied. If all papers are in order and the register is able to make the required findings, the register will sign the Register's Statement and immediately issue Letters of Authority. If the register denies the application, the register shall state the reason for the denial. The denial is not an adjudication. There is no appeal from this denial. Essentially, a denial will require that you begin probate by formal proceedings.
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