Exceptions to Probate
There are several statutes that allow for assets owned by the decedent to pass to the decedent's heirs without the necessity of probate. These statutes are exceptions to the general rule as to when probate is required.
MCL 257.236 provides that the title to motor vehicles of a decedent whose total value does not exceed $60,000 may be transferred to the heirs by the Michigan Department of State if there are no other assets requiring probate. The Secretary of State must be furnished with proof of death of the registered owner and a certificate setting forth the fact that the applicant is the surviving husband or wife or the applicants are the heirs of the decedent. This is accomplished by filing the papers at the Secretary of State Office.
MCL 324.80312 provides for the transfer of water craft without probate proceedings if there are no other assets requiring probate and the value of the water craft is less than $100,000. This is accomplished by filing the proper papers at the Secretary of State Office.
MCL 408.480 provides that wages or fringe benefits in any amount may be delivered to the heirs of the decedent in order of priority listed in this statute. The priority is as follows: surviving spouse, surviving children, surviving mother or father, and surviving sister or brother.
MCL 700.3981 provides that a hospital, convalescent or nursing home, morgue, or law enforcement agency holding cash not exceeding $500 and wearing apparel of a decedent may deliver the cash and wearing apparel to a person furnishing identification and an affidavit that the person is the spouse, child, or parent of the decedent and that an estate of the decedent is not pending. These documents are given to the person holding the property and are not filed with the probate court.
MCL 700.3982 of the Estates and Protected Individuals Code contains a very similar provision that may be used to distribute estates of this size. It may be used when either personal or real property is involved. It can not be used to distribute property to a beneficiary of a will. That provision is discussed Court Order Distributing Small Estates.