Many have heard the terms Probate and Estate Planning and they seem interchangeable, however they each serve a different purpose and they each come at a different time.


Probate by definition is the official proving of a Will or to establish the validity of a Will in court. Probate occurs after someone has died and their Will or Last Will gets filed with the Probate court in the county they resided in. A Judge will hold a hearing to determine whether the Will is valid.

In Michigan, there are two types of probate. Formal Probate and Informal Probate. Formal Probate is when someone dies intestate, meaning without a Will. Informal Probate is when someone dies with a Will or Last Will. Either avenue takes four months to probate at a minimum, which is why estate planning can be so crucial to avoid Probate all together.

Estate Planning:

Estate Planning is the preparation of putting together a plan for what happens to your estate or assets/real estate upon your incapacity or passing. Estate planning occurs prior to death and prior to being deemed incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. Most estate plans set up by an attorney will practice estate planning.

Within estate planning there are many tools attorneys used in order to come up with a plan that makes sense for their client’s needs. The point of estate planning in Grand Rapids Mi is to ensure that your assets are passed to the beneficiaries or heirs you designate whether they be individuals, charities, churches, etc. Estate planning is also important when deciding goals. If a client has a goal of their estate avoiding probate and they own a home and in Michigan have assets greater than $22,000 then creating a Trust may be a great idea. However, if a client doesn’t own a home and their assets full are at or below $22,000 then a Last Will may be the avenue to take.

In any case however, it is crucial that everyone should have Durable Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate. Planning for incapacity is so important and I cannot stress that enough. Accidents happen and without any established powers of attorney or patient advocate, there isn’t anyone who can make medical decisions on your behalf or get access to financial holdings in order to pay your bills.

Preparation and pre planning is key. So, talk to probate estate lawyers near me today. Once your deemed incapacitated or have passed away, without any kind of planning, the ordeal becomes that much more difficult for your loved ones. Attorneys can help you with your estate planning needs, giving you peace of mind that comes from knowing your wishes and your legacy will be honored. At the Law Office of Sean Patrick Cox, PLLC, our attorneys proudly serve West Michigan.

We offer free consultations, Call Today (616) 942-6404