How Do You Become an Executor of an Estate in Michigan When One Was Not Appointed?

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Generally, will makers, or "testators," name an executor in a last will and testament. However, when an individual dies without a will -- referred to as dying intestate -- a probate court appoints an executor or personal representative. In Michigan, as in other states, a deceased person's family members or friends may request appointment by a probate court. Typically, a request for appointment as personal representative must be filed with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived.

Informal Probate

Michigan probate courts allow for informal probate proceedings upon request. Informal probate proceedings typically involve little oversight by the probate court. Moreover, informal probate proceedings may not require any court hearings; the court's role may be limited to reviewing and accepting paperwork. In Michigan, an individual who is interested in being appointed as personal representative for informal probate may file an application for appointment with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived.

Formal Probate

A decedent typically names an executor in his will. However, if no executor was named in the will or the validity of the will is in question, formal probate proceedings may be required. Formal probate proceedings generally involve more oversight than informal probate proceedings and may be necessary if the decedent's will leaves any doubt as to who the executor should be. A petition for formal probate and appointment of a personal representative may be filed with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived.


Michigan probate courts require a prospective personal representative to notify anyone who may be of "equal or higher priority" in the application for appointment. For example, if the decedent has family members, an applicant who is not related to the decedent must notify them of her application for appointment. If the decedent's family members do not object, the probate court may grant the application. However, if the decedent's family members do object, the probate court may deny the application.

Additional Requirements

Michigan probate courts require a filing fee and a death certificate or other proof of the decedent's death. An individual who seeks appointment as personal representative may need to gather other information for the application or petition, such as the names and addresses of the decedent's heirs. If an applicant is aware of individuals who are of equal or higher priority, he may list them on the application.


About the Author

Andrine Redsteer's writing on tribal gaming has been published in "The Guardian" and she continues to write about reservation economic development. Redsteer holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Washington, a Master of Arts in Native American studies from Montana State University and a Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law.