For both formal and informal probate proceedings in Michigan, an order of priority exists for who can serve as personal representative. The term “personal representative includes, but is not limited to, an executor, administrator, successor personal representative, and special personal representative…” MCL § 700.1106(p).
The order for priority for serving as a general personal representative in Michigan (provided the person is not disqualified) is:
- The person with priority as determined by a probated will including a person nominated by a power conferred in a will.
- The decedent’s surviving spouse if the spouse is a devisee of the decedent.
- Other devisees of the decedent.
- The decedent’s surviving spouse.
- Other heirs of the decedent.
- After 42 days after the decedent’s death, the nominee of a creditor if the court finds the nominee suitable.
After 63 days after the decedent’s death, or if the court determines exigent circumstances exist, the state or county public administrator may be appointed if any of the following apply:
- No interested person applied or petitioned for appointment of a personal representative within 63 days or the number of days determined by the court under this subdivision after the decedent’s death.
- The decedent died apparently leaving no known heirs.
- There is no spouse, heir, or beneficiary under a will who is a United States resident and is entitled to a distributive share in the decedent’s estate.
The order of priority for who can serve as a general personal representative in Michigan is found in MCL § 700.3203.
Who Is Disqualified From Serving As Personal Representative In Michigan?
The priority to serve as personal representative under Michigan law is not absolute.
If the person with priority is incompetent or unsuitable “then administration of the estate may be granted to another interested person. Incompetence or unsuitability may be shown by evidence of unsound mind, lack of normal understanding or average intelligence, intemperance, dishonesty or want of integrity, dissolute habits or other disqualifying moral delinquencies.” In Re Estate of Hutton, 191 Mich. App. 292 (1991).
Can You Object To The Appointment Of a Personal Representative?
Yes, under Michigan law you can object to the appointment of the personal representative. An objection to the appointment of a personal representative may be made only in a formal proceeding. If an objection is made, the priority of who can serve as personal representative under Michigan law apply except in either of the following circumstances:
- If the estate appears to be more than adequate to meet exemptions and costs of administration but inadequate to discharge anticipated unsecured claims, on petition of creditors, the court may appoint any qualified person.
- If a devisee or heir who appears to have a substantial interest in the estate objects to the appointment of a person whose priority is not determined by will, the court may appoint a person who is acceptable to the devisees and heirs whose interests in the estate appear to be worth in total more than 1/2 of the probable distributable value or, if no person is acceptable to these devisees and heirs, any suitable person.
Do You Have To Serve As Personal Representative If You Have Priority Under Michigan Law?
No, no one is forced to serve as the personal representative of a Michigan estate if they do not want to so serve.
Under Michigan law, a person entitled to serve as personal representative may nominate a qualified person to act as personal representative. A person may renounce his or her right to nominate or to an appointment by filing an appropriate writing with the court. If 2 or more persons share a priority, those of them who do not renounce shall concur in nominating another to act for them or in applying for appointment. Mi Comp L § 700.3203.
A Michigan probate attorney will help guide you through the process of qualifying and serving as personal representative.