Following the death of a loved one, families are often eager to make all the final arrangements and settle that person’s estate. This can be a long process that includes finding all the estate planning documents including the will, identifying all the heirs to the estate, dealing with life insurance payments, finding and paying all the estate’s creditors and many other issues.

Furthermore, oftentimes before an estate can be settled and bequests are distributed the estate must be probated. The probate court will ensure that all the legal documents are valid and that settlement of the estate is complete. If there are any legal disputes, such as a will contest, the probate court will handle the case.

However, before any probate litigation can ensue, the probate court must receive official notice that the deceased has really passed away. In order for this to happen, the court must receive a death certificate from the city or county where the person lived. Usually this is not an issue and only requires officials to process the paper work.

Recently, though, the city of Detroit had issues processing death certificates. Because of the city’s ongoing financial concerns and bankruptcy, the vender that supplies the special paper refused to give city officials more paper without assurances that the company would get paid. Therefore, the city was unable to print death certificates, thereby delaying probate for many families.

Thankfully, city officials have since announced that they have been able to secure more paper and have been able to resume printing death certificates.

While paper supply is unlikely to affect many throughout Michigan, road blocks can arise at any time during the probate process. Probate litigation can get extremely complicated and time consuming without the right help and legal knowledge.

Source: UPI, “Detroit’s bankruptcy affects the dead,” Aug. 29, 2013

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