The recent passing of both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, mother and daughter, so close together reminded me of one of Michigan’s probate laws, commonly known as the 120-hour rule. The 120-hour rule states that if your heir or beneficiary dies within the first 120 hours (or 5 days) after you die, they are treated as if they predeceased you for purposes of inheritance.

How It Works

The logic behind this law is best highlighted by example. If you were to pass away, and one of your children sadly died three days later, would you want their inheritance to pass pursuant to your will or to your heirs, or would you want it to pass according to their will or to their heirs? Perhaps you have never loved your child’s spouse. Most likely, the answer is that you would want it to pass pursuant to your will and your wishes. Without the 120-hour rule, your child’s inheritance would pass through their estate to their heir or beneficiary, the spouse you have always detested.

What would have happened if, instead of Carrie dying the day before Debbie, she had died the day after? Under the 120-hour rule, Carrie’s estate would not inherit from Debbie’s estate. Instead, Carrie’s estate would be bypassed altogether and Debbie’s assets would pass pursuant to her wishes if she had a will or trust, or pursuant to state law if not. In this example, Michigan law would give Carrie’s inheritance from Debbie directly to Carrie’s children. Perhaps that is what Debbie would have wanted anyway. But what if Carrie was married? Without the 120-hour rule, whatever Debbie intended for Carrie could have gone to Carrie’s husband, leaving nothing to Debbie’s grandchildren.

Let Us Do The Work

Like family, inheritance laws can be messy and confusing. Don’t spend your time stressing to understand these laws – it’s our job to explain them to you, and to guide you to the best decision for your individual situation. Call the Probate Pro today for a free consultation – we would be happy to help you with your estate planning needs.

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