Letter of Authority

4 Things You Must Know In Michigan

Losing a loved one is a heartbreaking and stressful time. Unfortunately, navigating the Probate process during this difficult time doesn’t make dealing with the loss any easier. At Rochester Law Center, we frequently work with families who are seeking the help of a Probate Lawyer in Michigan because they were trying to sell their loved one’s home, or to access one of their loved one’s bank accounts, investment portfolios, or other accounts. Often, the client simply wants to give the asset to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries listed in their loved one’s will, but they were told that they will need to have “Letters of Authority” first. Usually, a financial institution won’t give you access to your loved one’s Estate until you give them a Letter of Authority from the Probate Court appointing you as the Personal Representative of the Estate. To help you understand what this means, we’ve outlined this list of 4 things you need to know about a Letter of Authority in Michigan.

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1. A Letter Of Authority Makes You The Legal, Personal Representative Of An Estate

A Letter of Authority is a legal document that is signed by the Register of the Probate Court in the County where your loved one was living at the time of their death. It designates the person who will be the Personal Representative of your loved one’s Estate. The Personal Representative is able to control and manage the money, property, and assets that were owned by the person who passed away (the Decedent). The Personal Representative must follow the instructions in the Decedent’s will (or the instructions of very specific Michigan laws if there was no will). As the Personal Representative, you are able to sign for and manage assets on behalf of the Estate, which is why banks and financial institutions request a Letter of Authority. This helps them make sure that they’re working with the person who is legally allowed to represent the Estate, and not someone who only claims that they’re allowed to represent the Estate. 

2. It's A Standard Part of The Probate Process

Probate is the legal process that takes place after a person has passed away. It’s used to properly distribute their money, property, and assets (Estate) to the heirs, beneficiaries, and/or creditors. In Michigan, There are four common scenarios that usually require an Estate to be administered in Probate Court:

  1. Your loved one who passed away didn’t have a Will. This means their money, assets, and property will need to be distributed by the Probate Court according to Michigan Probate Law. 
  2. Your loved one left a Will behind, but they didn’t have a Living Trust or more comprehensive Estate Plan.
  3. Your loved one had a Living Trust, but forgot to place all of their property into the Trust.
  4. There are people contesting a Lifetime Gift, Beneficiary Designation, Will, or Trust (.e. family members or creditors).

3. How To Get Your Letter of Authority

In order to get a Letter of Authority, you must open a Probate Estate and petition the Probate Court to become the Estate’s Personal Representative. Once the court appoints you as the Personal Representative, you will be issued your Letter of Authority. This identifies you to third parties as being the legal representative who is authorized to manage the Estate.

4. A Probate Lawyer Can Speed Up The Process

Probate can be a complicated, public, legal process and navigating the complexities of Michigan Probate Law during a time of grief can be daunting. But we can help… At Rochester Law Center, we’ve developed a streamlined process for Probate Representation that helps you manage the entire process quickly, easily, and stress free.

At Rochester Law Center, our compassionate and dedicated Probate Lawyers are experienced in all matters of Probate Administration. We understand the intricacies and nuances involved with Probating an Estate and can help you navigate every step of the way through the complicated paperwork and legal proceedings you’ll undoubtedly be facing ahead.

If you need help Probating an Estate to get your Letter of Authority in Michigan, we can help. Call us today at (248) 613-0007 for a free consultation with an experienced Probate Lawyer. 

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