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Public Administrator Reforms Signed into Law

Feb 09, 2018

This week, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law two bills making changes to the state public administrator system. The changes are aimed at combatting probate abuse by requiring a more thorough search for heirs and sets up a clearer path of action for public administrators.

The first bill, introduced by Representative Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), would:

  • Extend the timeframe from 42 days to 63 days that a county public administrator cannot be appointed to represent an estate
  • Requires a formal proceeding for a county public administrator to be appointed
  • When opening an estate that is subject to tax or mortgage foreclosure, county public administrators must:

    • Post the notice, that the heir may object to the appointment of the public administrator, that the heir may petition for removal of the public administrator, and that the heir may seek to be appointed the personal representative
    • Post the court form to challenge the public administrator’s petition
    • Provide a statement that details the search for any heirs which must include an internet search

Any public administrator who intentionally fails to provide the required notices is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

The second bill, introduced by Representative Jim Ellison (D-Royal Oak), would:

  • Requires public administrators to submit a written notice to the county treasurer’s office, if the decedent’s real property has delinquent property taxes, and allows the treasurer to submit information to the probate court on the status of the real property, thus ensuring that heirs who are making tax payments are protected
  • Requires public administrator to provide to the court a copy of the settlement statements from the sale of the real property
  • Requires public administrators to get court approval before selling a property they are representing and if the property is occupied by an heir of the deceased then the state public administrator must be notified
  • Requires the public administrator to advance all court filing fees associated with the administration of the estate unless waived by the court

Finally, the bills cap real estate fees and fees related to identifying real property to 10% of the net proceeds from the sale of the real property.  If the net proceeds are less than $30,000, then the court must determine the reasonableness of the fees.

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