Recently, a grief stricken family drove in from out of state to bury their brother.  The family met with a Detroit area funeral home and understood that they had insufficient funds to pay for the funeral home bill that their brother had requested.  However, the family was aware of a bank account that the decedent held in his individual name.  The family was unable to access the account because it had no death beneficiary or joint owner.  The funeral home contacted The Probate Pro for help.

The funeral home referred the family to my office to gain access to the bank account so that the funeral could go on as planned.  Later that afternoon, a Petition for Assignment was filed in the Wayne County Probate Court to approve the assignment of the decedent’s bank account to the funeral bill.   This process, often referred to a small estate procedure, authorizes the payment of the expenses for the decedent’s funeral and burial and if the balance of a decedent’s gross estate consists of property of the value of $21,000.00 or less ( this is the 2013 adjusted value), the court may order that the property be turned over to the surviving spouse or, if there is not a spouse, to the decedent’s heirs.  The procedure short cuts the often lengthy probate process that can take over 5 months from beginning to end.

The court entered the Order.  An attorney accompanied the family to the bank to close the account.  The funeral home bill was satisfied in full the same day The Probate Pro was contacted.  Needless to say, the family funeral home director was thrilled and the family was relieved.