Small Estate (Petition and Order for Assignment)

Grand Traverse County Probate Court

Small Estate Assignment

This page is meant to provide you with general information in regards to small estates. Please note: Our staff is prohibited by law from giving you legal advice. Please consult an attorney if you require assistance.

Michigan law (MCL 700.3982) allows small estates to be probated using an expedited process that does not require a personal representative to be appointed. To qualify as a small estate, the total value of the estate, minus funeral and burial expenses, must be $22,000 or less for 2016*. Please note that in this process, the terms of the decedent’s will are not carried out (however, if the decedent had a will, by law, it must be filed with the Probate Court, per MCL 700.2516).

This small estate process has several requirements.

You must fill out the attached Petition and Order for Assignment, PC 556 (PDF). There is a $25 filing fee, and a statutorily-mandated inventory fee based on the value of the estate. You may access an inventory fee calculator online. If you need to have the Order certified, there is an additional $12 fee. If you are submitting a check or money order for the filing fee, it can be made payable to the Grand Traverse County Probate Court. We do not accept credit cards.
  • The decedent must have been a Grand Traverse County resident. If the decedent was not a Grand Traverse County resident, he/she must have left property in our county.
  • You must submit a copy of the death certificate to the court.
  • A description and gross value must be given of all property within the decedent’s estate. Estate assets are assets solely in the decedent’s name.
  • You must complete a Testimony form, PC565 (PDF). This will help you to determine who the heirs are.
Since small estate assignment is an expedited procedure, Michigan Statute is very strict on how a decedent’s estate may be assigned.
  • 1st, the estate assets will be applied to pay any unpaid funeral or burial expenses to the funeral home. If the estate is less than or equal to the amount of the unpaid funeral and burial expenses, then all of the estate goes to the funeral home.
  • 2nd, if there are assets left over after full payment of the funeral home, then any individuals or entities (including the Department of Human Services) who paid the funeral expenses need to be repaid out of the estate.
  • 3rd:
    • If the funeral home has been paid
    • Or if the funeral expenses have been paid by insurance or have been prepaid by the decedent
    • Or the person(s) who had paid for the funeral expenses has been paid back
    • Or if the funeral expenses have been paid by insurance or have been prepaid by the decedent
After all of this has been considered, then remaining assets will be assigned to the surviving spouse or to the heirs if there is no surviving spouse.


The small estate assignment process may not be appropriate in cases where a bulk of the estate is made up of an automobile, household belongings, or real property and there are multiple individuals entitled to the property.

*Table for Maximum Estate Value in Years Prior to 2014

Year of Death
Value of state
2000 $15,000
2001 $16,000
2002 $17,000
2003 $17,000
2004 $17,000
2005 $18,000
2006 $18,000
2007 $19,000
2008 $19,000
2009 $20,000
2010 $20,000
2011 $20,000
2012 $21,000
2013 $21,000