What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is settled, debts are paid, and assets are distributed to beneficiaries. This process is typically supervised by a court. The process can be complex, and individuals involved in the administration of an estate, whether as personal representatives or beneficiaries, may benefit from seeking legal guidance to navigate the requirements of Michigan probate law.

Roles in Probate

Personal Representative

The Personal Representative, often named in a decedent's will, is appointed by the court to oversee the probate process. This individual is entrusted with managing the estate, ensuring debts are paid, and overseeing the fair distribution of assets


Beneficiaries are those individuals designated to inherit assets from the estate. They may include family members, friends, or charitable organizations named in the decedent’s will or determined by state law.


Family members are entitled by Michigan law, to be informed of the contents of the estate.

Asbestos Litigation and Probate

There are instances where probate is needed in conjunction with asbestos lawsuits.  For example, if your loved one died of asbestos cancer, the cause of action continues to the family as a wrongful death claim.  To move forward in the process, a probate estate must first be opened in the probate court in the county where the individual lived at the time of their date of death.  A Personal Representative will be appointed by the probate court.  The Personal Representative will then be able to file the lawsuit for wrongful death in the circuit court.

The Personal Representative is the person named in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament to serve in that role.  If the decedent had no will, the appointment is governed by Michigan law with priority first going to the surviving spouse.  If there is no spouse, then priority goes to the children.  In most cases, probate is usually commenced informally, without a hearing, and unsupervised by the court.  If you need probate done in conjunction with your lawsuit, we will handle all of it for you.  We have tremendous experience in probate, handling hundreds of cases in probate courts around the State of Michigan.  It would be our pleasure to assist you in the probate process.

Probate FAQs

What happens to asbestos settlements in probate?

How long does the probate process take in an asbestos case?

How is Probate connected to Asbestos lawsuits?

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Pioneering Justice

Leaders in Michigan asbestos litigation since 1975.

Areas Of Practice & Expertise

150+ Years Combined Experience

About Us

The Serling & Abramson law firm was founded in 1970 by Michael B. Serling. Mr. Serling was the first attorney in Michigan to file a wrongful death action on behalf of the family of a mesothelioma victim. In 1975, a young widow of an asbestos insulator contacted Mr. Serling concerning her husband who had died at age 52. She was left with two young children and was trying to raise them on a $4 per hour job. The extremely gratifying feeling of success in prosecuting the case and securing a sizable settlement for the widow and her children inspired Mr. Serling to continue this work.

Michael soon realized that it was more than just asbestos insulators who were falling victim to asbestos-related diseases. It soon became apparent that mesothelioma and lung cancer were occurring in virtually every building trade and many industrial settings. He dedicated his career to securing justice for all victims affected by asbestos exposure. Today, over 50 years later, Serling and Abramson are still representing victims of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

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