Personal tools

Issue Alert - 02-05-08

Document Actions

May 10, 2002

Issue Summary:

Repayment of SER burial benefits out of estates

Persons Affected:

Recipient of SER for burial services when an estate is later discovered

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 755-3120, (800)724-7441 Fax: (989) 755-3558E-mail:


State Emergency Relief (SER)

What's Happening?

After FIA has approved SER burial benefits, FIA sometimes learns that the deceased person had assets there are being probated. This typically happens when FIA is presented with estate documents. In these cases, local FIA offices may not “sign off” a document saying that FIA has no claim on the estate until and unless the SER has been repaid. This is not a change in policy, but local offices handled the situation differently because there was no guidance in the SER manual. The current procedure As part of the current SER burial procedures, caseworkers collect and evaluate the decedent’s estate to determine eligibility for SER. The decedent’s estate includes all cash and non-cash assets. While the Probate Court determines the value of the decedent’s estate, caseworkers may make their own determination prior to the Probate Court’s for SER eligibility. - If the caseworker’s determination shows that the decedent’s assets equal or exceed the SER burial amount, he or she denies the SER application. - If the caseworker determines the estate is less than the SER burial amount, the caseworker will approve SER based on that figure. The person taking the estate through Probate must first sign a repayment agreement for if and when the Probate Court determines the amount for burial expenses. - If the Probate Court later determines a smaller estate amount than the case worker, the caseworker will then approve the SER amount based on the Probate figure (assuming all other eligibility factors are met.) The New Policy The new FIA policy addresses the situation where the existence of an estate comes to the attention of FIA after SER has been approved. The policy instructs the caseworkers not to sign off on any documents from Probate Court stating that FIA has no claims on the estate unless or until the SER has been repaid.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services office handle these type of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate the "free" legal services or legal aid office that serves your county on the Michigan Legal Assistance Network website ( or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738