Distributing Small Estates via Petition and Order for Assignment
The Estates and Protected Individuals Code (MCL 700.3982) provides a simplified procedure for distributing estates, if the balance of the gross estate after the payment of the decedent's funeral and burial expense consists of property that is less than the small estate threshold. A Petition for Assignment (PC556m) may be filed with the Court to transfer estate assets that meet the small estate requirements. The total value of the estate is computed by adding the fair market value of all property of the decedent as of the date of death. Liens or debts of the decedent (other than funeral and burial expenses) are not subtracted in making the calculation.
Small Estate Threshold, By Date of Death
|Date of Death||Amount|
|2020 - Present||$24,000|
|2018 - 2019||$23,000|
|2014 - 2017||$22,000|
|2012 – 2013||$21,000|
|2009 – 2011||$20,000|
|2007 – 2008||$19,000|
|2005 – 2006||$18,000|
|2002 – 2004||$17,000|
|October 1, 1994 – December 31, 2000||$15,000|
|December 13, 1984 – September 30, 1994||$5,000|
|July 1, 1979 – December 12, 1984||$2,500|
|October 1, 1972 – June 30, 1979||$1,500|
|August 28, 1964 – September 30, 1972||$1,000|
|September 3, 1949 – August 27, 1964||$500|
|September 10, 1942 – September 2, 1949||$200|
Upon a showing of evidence, satisfactory to the court, of payment of the expenses for the decedent's funeral and burial, the court may order that the property be turned over to the surviving spouse or, if there is not a spouse, to the decedent's heirs. 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 not a spouse, to the decedent's heirs.
Other than a surviving spouse or minor children of the decedent, an heir who receives property through an Order for Assignment 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.
The filing fee is $37.00 plus an inventory fee, which can be calculated here. A copy of the death certificate and a copy of the funeral bill showing the status of the charges must be attached to the Petition. If any part of the funeral or burial expenses have been paid, the receipt should indicate the name and amount paid by each payer.
Note Regarding Inventory Fee: Effective for decedent’s dying on or after March 28, 2013, if estate contains real property which is encumbered by or used as security for an indebtedness, the amount of the indebtedness shall be deducted from the value of the real property in computing the Inventory Fee. MCL 600.871. The deduction is made only to the value of the specific real property that is subject to the lien and no parcel of real estate can have a value of less than zero. Note that the deduction is used only for purpose of calculating the Inventory Fee, and is not used to determine whether the estate qualifies under the small estate threshold.
- Instructions for Petition and Order for Assignment
- PC556m - Petition for Assignment
- MC97 - Protected Personal Information
- PC556o - Order for Assignment
The Michigan Legal Help website offers an interactive guide that will populate a Petition for Assignment for you based on your answers to some common questions. To access the interactive guide click here. Further information regarding small estates is available on Michigan Legal Help’s Small Estate page.
Transferring Small Estates by Affidavit
An estate that does not exceed the small estate threshold may also qualify for transfer by affidavit under MCL 700.3983. A decedent’s property may be transferred to those entitled under the Affidavit of Decedent’s Successor for Delivery of Certain Assets Owned by the Decedent (PC 598), if all of the following apply:
- The value of the estate, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed the small estate threshold, as listed above;
- The estate does not include real property;
- Twenty-eight (28) days or more have passed since the decedent's death;
- An application or petition for appointment of personal representative is not pending or has not been granted;
- A petition and order for assignment has not been filed;
- The successor is entitled to the payment or delivery of the property;
- The Affidavit contains the name and address of any person that is entitled to a share of the decedent’s property and the portion to which each is entitled;
The Affidavit of Decedent's Successor must be completed in its entirety and signed before a notary public. The form is not filed with the Probate Court, but rather, is delivered to the individual or entity holding the decedent’s property.
- PC598 - Affidavit of Decedent’s Successor Form
Further exceptions to probate are outlined here.