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Wills and Trusts
Wayne State University Law School
Cancelosi, Susan Evans

Signed Trusts and Estates
Prof. Cancelosi
Winter 2007
Probate Process
I.                    Terms
a.       Will – a codicil and a testamentary instrument that appoints a personal representative, revokes or revises another will, nominates a guardian, or expressly excludes or limits the right of an individual or class to succeed to the decedent’s property that is passing by intestate succession
                                                               i.      Devise real property
                                                             ii.      Bequeath personal property
b.      Intestacy – this is a statutory default mechanism that becomes operative when a property owner dies w/o having executed a will or w/o having executed any will substitutes
                                                               i.      Real property descends to heirs
                                                             ii.      Personal property is distributed to next of kin
c.       Today
                                                               i.      Almost anytime you say I give… this is sufficient to give away personal or real property 
II.                 Probate
a.       This is generally based on state law
b.      Purpose:
                                                               i.      Distribution of property to the desired recipients
                                                             ii.      Payment of creditors
                                                            iii.      Evidence of transfer of title
c.       This can be very expensive
                                                               i.      Estate taxes, attorney’s fees, administration fees, appraisal costs
III.               Non-Probate Transfers
a.       Revocable Trusts
                                                               i.      These can be problematic because it is only as useful as what you remember to put in it
b.      Joint tenancy property
                                                               i.      IE: joint bank account, joint tenancy real property
c.       Contracts with payable on death provisions
                                                               i.      IE: life insurance policies, and pension accounts
IV.              Opening Probate
a.       Must be done in the primary jurisdiction (the jurisdiction the decedent was domiciled at the time of death)
                                                               i.      If there is real property in another jurisdiction then ancillary administration is required in that jurisdiction
b.      The court issues letters of administration or letters of testamentary
                                                               i.      This appoints an administrator if intestate or an executor if testate
c.       Then file inventory with the court
d.      The court may require a bond from the administrator/executor, unless it has been waived by the will
e.       Pay off all creditors and taxes
f.        Distribute assets

st is determined by the particular jurisdiction
d.      UPC § 3-108 (SOL) – No proceeding, formal, or informal, may be initiated more than 3 years from the date of death
                                                               i.      Common Law – this allows a will to be probated at any time
VII.            Barring Creditors
a.       All states have nonclaim statutes
                                                               i.      These require creditors to file claims within a specified time period; and claims after this are barred
b.      These statutes come in two types:
                                                               i.      They bar claims generally 2 to 6 months (four under the UPC) after probate proceedings have begun; or
                                                             ii.      They bar claims generally 1 to 5 years (one year under the UPC) after the decedent’s death
                                                            iii.      UPC § 3-803
c.       The Supreme Court has ruled that the DPC requires that known or reasonably ascertainable creditors receive actual notice before they are barred by the short term statute (Tulsa Prof. Collection Servs., Inc. v. Pope)