Areas of Legal Practice

Shifman & Carlson, P.C. has a reputation of providing quality representation and effective legal counsel in estate planning, real estate, and business law.

Probate Administration Attorney

Estate Administration Lawyer in Farmington Hills

As probate attorneys, Shifman & Carlson, P.C. has been assisting clients with their estate administration needs since the firm was founded in 1963. We have the experience and expertise necessary to probate and administer estates and trusts, while ensuring that the legal wishes of the decedent are carried out as efficiently as possible.

We are qualified to assist a personal representative in complying with required notices, publications and filings of pleadings and reports, as well as defending against challenges to wills. We are also experienced in the representation of Trustees, where a decedent has created a Trust to pass on his or her assets.

Michigan Probate Administration

Our experienced attorneys can provide legal services throughout the probate process. Probate may move quickly for a simple estate that is well planned and organized with specific instructions as to various distributions. Some estates are more complex with intricate financial workings and require extensive unraveling in order get a clear picture and to enable probate actions to fulfill the desired wishes of the deceased.

Matters to handle during probate can involve unpaid taxes, debts, sale of real and personal property, pets, and other issues.  In a typical probate matter, we advise fiduciaries in the following areas:

  • Collecting and distributing life insurance proceeds;
  • Valuing and appraising the deceased’s property;
  • Locating the decedent’s assets;
  • Interpreting will provisions and bequeaths
  • Selling closely held businesses owned by the decedent.
  • Preparing/filing documents as required by probate court;
  • Payment of creditors / handling of insolvent estates/trusts

Michigan Probate Litigation

While most probate matters are administrated relatively quickly and smoothly, others may be problematic. When litigation is necessary in the probate process, it is crucial to hire an experienced probate attorney.

Litigation is a fact of life in probate court. Sometimes heirs are dissatisfied with the wishes of the deceased and may wish to contest the validity of the will.  Other times, devisees of the will (or beneficiaries of a trust) may wish to challenge their treatment by the estate’s personal representative (or the Trustee, as the case may be). Our firm has been involved in virtually all areas of probate litigation, from matters concerning will contests, interpretation of language, accountings, fraud, undue influence, diminished capacity, and many more.

Litigation can be costly and time consuming. We always attempt to resolve differences through skilled negotiations and mediation, but when it is necessary to litigate a matter, we have the means to take even the largest and most complex probate case.

Estate Planning

Shifman & Carlson, P.C. works with clients to create estate plans that meet all of their needs and desires, from distributing property according to client’s wishes to minimizing probate costs. We accomplish this by offering a holistic approach to estate planning that prioritizes our clients’ estate planning goals and values.

Once we understand our client’s goals, we then determine the best method for achieving those goals, so our clients get the peace of mind that comes with knowing their estate will be distributed exactly as they wish.

Whether your estate plan will require a simple will or a complicated trust, Shifman & Carlson, P.C. has the experience you need to properly plan your estate, no matter what estate planning goals you have.


At the very minimum, every person should have a will in place that provides instructions on how their assets are to be distributed upon their passing. While wills do not avoid the probate process, they still serve as a vehicle for you to choose how your assets will be distributed, rather than the government.

Many people are not aware that intestacy laws, which apply if the deceased does not have a will, do not distribute property according to the deceased’s wishes. For example, if you are a married person without children and one or both of your in-laws are alive and your spouse passes, your in-laws can receive a significant portion of your spouse’s estate, regardless of whether your spouse’s last wish was for you to receive the entire estate. Intestacy laws also have similar provisions regarding children.

By having a will, you can avoid these problems and have your property distributed in the manner you choose. Additionally, having a properly drafted will minimizes probate costs and allows your family to have quicker access to much needed funds.


Shifman & Carlson, P.C. uses trusts in a variety of ways to meet our clients’ needs and goals. Trusts are versatile agreements that can be used to achieve almost any estate planning goal. They can be used to avoid or reduce taxes, avoid probate, protect your assets, provide for beneficiaries, protect your assets from your beneficiaries’ creditors, or benefit a charity or institution. In addition, trusts can be structured so that you can put conditions on how and when your assets will be distributed when you pass away. They generally offer greater flexibility than a will, for instance, the terms of a trust are generally private from the general public. In fact, beneficiaries can be limited from examining the terms of the trust that do not pertain to them.

Durable Power of Attorney

At Shifman & Carlson, we believe that having a durable power of attorney is essential to every estate plan, and we offer these agreements as standard parts of our estate planning process. A durable power of attorney is an estate planning tool that allows you to choose who will manage your affairs in the event you are no longer able to do so. Not only do they allow you to choose who will manage your finances, but they also allow you to choose how they will be able to manage your affairs.

Durable Power of Attorney agreements are not only for those nearing the end of their life, as these documents operate in the event of sudden disability or incapacity, even if such an event is temporary in nature.

If you suddenly become disabled or incapacitated and you do not have a durable power of attorney in place, your family will have to petition the court for the authority to manage your affairs. These proceedings are costly, and your family will have to prove to the court that you are no longer able to manage your affairs. If there is disagreement amongst your family members as to who should take care of you, the judge may appoint someone that you may not have ever wanted. You can avoid this headache if you have designated someone in advance with a Durable Power of Attorney.

Patient Advocate Appointments

A patient advocate appointment is another important estate planning tool that we encourage all our clients to pursue. Like a durable power of attorney, a patient advocate appointment designates a person who is charged with handling your medical care when you cannot make informed medical decisions. In order to make a patient advocate appointment, you must nominate who will oversee handling medical decisions for you, and they must accept the appointment in order to have authority. These appointments can be registered to the Michigan Peace of Mind Registry, which will allow your doctor to immediately know who to contact in the event you are no longer able to make your own medical decisions.


  • Serving MI Since 1963 – 100+ Years of Combined Experience

  • Top Rating For Ethics & Legal Ability (AV® Rating)

  • Selected for Inclusion in DBusiness Top Lawyers

  • Two Office Locations: Farmington Hills & Grand Rapids

  • Representing Individuals, Businesses, Municipalities & Schools

We proudly serve clients in Wayne County, Oakland County and Macomb County

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Contact Our Farmington Hills Attorney at Shifman & Carlson, P.C. Today!