Powers of Personal Representative
The personal representative is under a duty to settle and
distribute the estate "as expeditiously and efficiently as is
consistent with the best interests of the estate" and "except
as otherwise specified or ordered in regard to a supervised
personal representative, without adjudication, order or
direction of the court." Essentially, the personal
representative engages in unsupervised administration until
the estate is completed or until an interested person
including a personal representative files a petition in a
formal proceeding asking that the court enter an order to
resolve some issue involving the estate.
The Estates and Protected Individuals Code provides the
personal representative with broad powers with which to
accomplish settlement of estates without court involvement.
MCL 700.3715 provides that except as restricted or otherwise
provided by the will or by an order in a formal proceeding,
and subject to the priorities stated in section 3902, a
personal representative, acting reasonably for the benefit of
interested persons, may properly do any of the following:
- Retain property owned by the decedent pending distribution
or liquidation including property in which the personal
representative is personally interested or that is otherwise
improper for trust investment.
- Receive property from a fiduciary or another source.
- Perform, compromise, or refuse performance of a contract
of the decedent that continues as an estate obligation, as
the personal representative determines under the
circumstances. If the contract is for a conveyance of land
and requires the giving of warranties, the personal
representative shall include in the deed or other instrument
of conveyance the required warranties. The warranties are
binding on the estate as though the decedent made them but
do not bind the personal representative except in a
fiduciary capacity. In performing an enforceable contract
by the decedent to convey or lease land, the personal
representative, among other possible courses of action, may
do any of the following:
- a. Execute and deliver a deed of conveyance for cash
payment of the amount remaining due or for the
purchaser's note for the amount remaining due secured by
a mortgage on the land.
- b. Deliver a deed in escrow with directions that the
proceeds, when paid in accordance with the escrow
agreement, be paid to the decedent's successors, as
designated in the escrow agreement.
- If, in the judgment of the personal representative, the
decedent would have wanted the pledge satisfied under the
circumstances, satisfy a written charitable pledge of the
decedent irrespective of whether the pledge constitutes a
binding obligation of the decedent or is properly presented
as a claim.
- If funds are not needed to meet a debt or expenses
currently payable and are not immediately distributable,
deposit or invest liquid assets of the estate, including
funds received from the sale of other property in accordance
with the Michigan prudent investor rule.
- Acquire or dispose of property, including land in this or
another state, for cash or on credit, at public or private
sale; and manage, develop, improve, exchange, partition,
change the character of, or abandon estate property.
- Make an ordinary or extraordinary repair or alteration in
a building or other structure, demolish an improvement, or
raze an existing or erect a new party wall or building.
- Subdivide, develop, or dedicate land to public use, make
or obtain the vacation of a plat or adjust a boundary,
adjust a difference in valuation on exchange or partition by
giving or receiving consideration, or dedicate an easement
to public use without consideration.
- Enter into a lease as lessor or lessee for any purpose,
with or without an option to purchase or renew, for a term
within or extending beyond the period of
- Enter into a lease or arrangement for exploration and
removal of minerals or another natural resource, or enter
into a pooling or unitization agreement.
- Abandon property when, in the opinion of the personal
representative, it is valueless, or is so encumbered or in
such a condition as to be of no benefit to the estate.
- Vote stocks or another security in person or by general or
- Pay a call, assessment, or another amount chargeable or
accruing against or on account of a security, unless barred
by a provision relating to claims.
- Hold a security in the name of a nominee or in other form
without disclosure of the estate's interest. However, the
personal representative is liable for an act of the nominee
in connection with the security so held.
- Insure the estate property against damage, loss, and
liability and insure the personal representative against
liability as to third persons.
- Borrow money with or without security to be repaid from
the estate property or otherwise, and advance money for the
- Effect a fair and reasonable compromise with a debtor or
obligor, or extend, renew, or in any manner modify the terms
of an obligation owing to the estate. If the personal
representative holds a mortgage, pledge, or other lien upon
another person's property, the personal representative may,
in lieu of foreclosure, accept a conveyance or transfer of
encumbered property from the property's owner in
satisfaction of the indebtedness secured by lien.
- Pay a tax, an assessment, the personal representative's
compensation, or another expense incident to the estate's
- Sell or exercise a stock subscription or conversion
- Consent, directly or through a committee or other agent,
to the reorganization, consolidation, merger, dissolution,
or liquidation of a corporation or other business
- Allocate items of income or expense to either estate
income or principal, as permitted or provided by law.
- Employ, and pay reasonable compensation for reasonably
necessary services performed by, a person, including, but
not limited to, an auditor, investment advisor, or agent,
even if the person is associated with the personal
representative, to advise or assist the personal
representative in the performance of administrative duties;
act on such a person's recommendations without independent
investigation; and instead of acting personally, employ one
or more agents to perform an act of administration, whether
or not discretionary.
- Employ an attorney to perform necessary legal services or
to advise or assist the personal representative in the
performance of the personal representative's administrative
duties. An attorney employed under this subdivision shall
receive reasonable compensation for that employment.
- Prosecute or defend a claim or proceeding in any
jurisdiction for the protection of the estate and of the
personal representative in the performance of the personal
- Sell, mortgage, or lease estate property or an interest in
estate property for cash, credit, or part cash and part
credit, and with or without security for unpaid
- Continue a business or venture in which the decedent was
engaged at the time of death as a sole proprietor or a
general partner, including continuation as a general partner
by a personal representative that is a corporation in any of
the following manners:
- a. In the same business form for a period of not more
than four months after the date of appointment of a
general personal representative if continuation is a
reasonable means of preserving the value of the
business, including goodwill.
- b. In the same business form for an additional period
of time that may be approved by court order in a formal
proceeding to which the persons interested in the estate
- c. Throughout the period of administration if the
personal representative incorporates the business or
converts the business to a limited liability company and
if none of the probable distributees of the business who
are competent adults object to its incorporation or
conversion and its retention in the estate.
- Change the form of a business or venture in which the
decedent was engaged at the time of death through
incorporation or formation as a limited liability company,
or other entity offering protection against or limiting
exposure to liabilities.
- Provide for the personal representative's exoneration from
personal liability in a contract entered into on the
- Respond to an environmental concern or hazard affecting
estate property as provided in section 3722.
- Satisfy and settle claims and distribute the estate as
provided in this act.
- Make tax elections that are appropriate in order to carry
out the decedent's estate planning objectives and to reduce
the overall burden of taxation, both in the present and in
the future. This authority includes, but is not limited to,
all of the following:
- a. Electing to take expenses as estate tax or income
- b. Electing to allocate the exemption from the tax on
generation skipping transfers among transfers subject to
estate or gift tax.
- c. Electing to have all or a portion of a transfer
for a spouse's benefit qualify for the marital
- Divide portions of the estate, including portions to be
allocated into trust, into two or more separate portions or
trusts with substantially identical terms and conditions,
and allocate property between them, in order to simplify
administration for generation skipping transfer tax
purposes, to segregate property for management purposes, or
to meet another estate or trust objective.
Generally, pursuant to MCL 700.3717 if 2 or more persons are
appointed personal corepresentatives and unless the will
provides otherwise, the concurrence of all is required on an
act connected with the estate's administration or
distribution. The section contemplates the ability of one
personal representative to delegate tasks to a personal
corepresentative though this should only be done in limited
Pursuant to MCL 700.3718, unless the will provides otherwise,
each power exercisable by personal corepresentatives may be
exercised by the 1 or more remaining personal
corepresentatives after the appointment of 1 or more is
terminated. Unless the will provides otherwise, if 1 of 2 or
more persons nominated as personal corepresentatives is not
appointed, those or the 1 appointed may exercise all the
powers incident to the office.
The personal representative's authority terminates by death
or appointment of a conservator for the personal
representative's estate, MCL 700.3609, voluntary resignation,
MCL 700.3610, an order closing the estate under MCL 700.3952
or 700.3953, by removal, MCL 700.3611, or 1 year after the
filing of a sworn statement as provided in MCL 700.3954, MCL
700.3610. A personal representative may resign by giving the
interested persons 14 days notice and filing a written
statement of resignation with the register. If no one applies
or petitions for appointment of a successor, the resignation
is ineffective. It is only effective upon the appointment and
qualification of a successor.