A: You should contact the probate court for the county the loved one lived in when they passed away. If there was a will contest it would be in the court records. If you are not sure of the county, you can call other counties in the area and any counties where the loved one used to live.
There is no universal database; it takes some investigation. If a will was found invalid, one probate court will have the records.
A: Generally, a will does not avoid probate. Many different factors can determine if a probate is needed, or not. For example, does she own real property? If she does, how is it titled? If she owns real property that is only in her name, you will need to probate her estate. If she does not own real property, and all her bank accounts and investments have beneficiary designations, there would most likely be no need for a probate, regardless of the status of the will.
You should contact a Michigan estate planning attorney for a free consultation. Your question should be easy to answer with a little more information.
A: If your father used an attorney or firm, you may be able to get information about any documents. Sometimes you can track down an attorney through passing comments, business cards, branded sticky notes, etc. The same advice would work for the IRAs, you would be looking for any mention of a financial planner or insurance salesman. Tax preparers are also a good source of information.
You can check with the probate court for any counties he resided in on the off chance he filed a will.