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John Elder
John Elder, Estate & Elder Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4631
Experience:  Over 14 years experience in Medicaid, Estates, Trust.
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My husband passed away one month ago. He left no will. He had

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My husband passed away one month ago. He left no will. He had a 13 yr. old van in his name only. He had a savings acct in his name only which was really money he had been setting aside for his mothers future funeral. It contained approx. $7500. He had two credit accts one approx $1700 and one approx $1500. He died unexpectedly and I had only the money in his savings acct to pay for the funeral as the funeral home wanted their money up front. I have recently received as his beneficiary $18,000. Our home mortgage and equity loan is underwater I need to do a shortsale on the house as his was the only income. Do I need to do probate with so little assets involved? Even when I pay out every cent I have it won't cover our joint indebtedness.
Welcome! Thank you for your question.

Unfortunately the only way you are going to get access to his savings account and van are to go through the probate process. The account and title of the van will require someone to be appointed by the probate court as administrator to transfer those assets to the heir(s) of the estate.

As a spouse you may be entitled to a large portion, or all, of the assets despite the credit card debt. This does not apply to the home since the debt is secured by the home.

The following rights are accorded to a surviving spouse under Michigan Law:

  1. The right to receive a family allowance, the amount of which is in the discretion of the Probate Court;
  2. The right to receive a homestead allowance in the amount of $10,000 (under EPIC, the homestead allowance is $15,000);
  3. The right to receive exempt property, such as personal and household items, in the amount of $3,500 (under EPIC, the exempt property allowance is $10,000);
  4. The right to remain in the marital home for one year after the death of the other


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