Under Michigan law, when a person dies without a will, it is said the person died intestate. The law has rules for what happens to a person's property when a person dies without a will. These rules are necessary because there is no will to provide direction as to how the deceased wished to distribute his property. The probate court will distribute property that was not owned jointly, as well as property that did not have a named beneficiary, according to Michigan law.
When a person dies intestate, Michigan probate courts see to the administration of the deceased person's estate. Based on Michigan laws of intestate succession, the probate court will establish a probate estate. This is how the probate court determines who will act as the decedent's personal representative and who will receive any property or assets the decedent left.
If the deceased had a surviving spouse, the spouse will receive the entire estate, unless he had a surviving parent, surviving child or surviving grandchild. Unless the deceased has children or grandchildren that are not related to the surviving spouse, the spouse will receive the first $150,000 of the estate. Of the remaining estate, the surviving spouse will then receive one-half (if there are surviving children or grandchildren) or three-quarters if there is a surviving parent.
Read More: Legal Requirements for a Surviving Spouse Regarding an Estate in Michigan
If there is a surviving spouse, the children will receive one-half of the estate after the first $150,000 passes to the surviving spouse. If the decedent dies intestate without a surviving spouse, the estate will go to the children, if any. Under Michigan law, the children must divide the estate equally when there is no surviving spouse.
Grandchildren, Parents and Siblings
Under certain circumstances, part or all of the estate may be passed to the grandchildren, parents or siblings of the decedent. When a decedent dies without a surviving spouse or children -- but with grandchildren, the grandchildren will split their parent's share of the estate as children of the decedent. If the decedent did not have a spouse and did not have children, the estate will go to parents of the decedent or siblings of the decedent in equal share.
Mark Vansetti is a licensed attorney and, along with his Juris Doctor, holds bachelor's degrees in both human biology and economics. Throughout his professional career, he has written on a variety of topics for the American Bar Association Health Law Section, FindLaw and other websites. Vansetti also served as the senior editor of his law school's law review.