Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator

Probate Matters

There is a probate court in each of Northern Michigan’s county each with its own Probate Judge.

When most people think of probate court, they think about the probate of the estates of decedents. Probate court does include that and more. The court handles the probate of estates; the supervision of trusts; establishment and supervision of guardianships and conservatorships; and commitment of the mentally ill.

The probate of estates and the supervision of trusts is a primary task for the probate court. When someone dies and is either a resident of a Michigan county or owns property in that county and is not a resident of Michigan, the probate court for that county must probate the decedent’s estate. This means that the court must appoint a personal representative for the estate and admit the will of the decedent, if any. The personal representative must then gather the assets, pay the bills and distribute the  estate to the parties entitled to it either as beneficiaries under the will or heirs if there is no will. When the probate court supervises a trust, it makes sure that the terms of the trust are carried out. It also decides any disputes concerning the trust.

The probate court has exclusive jurisdiction over guardianships and conservatorships.   The probate court may appoint a guardian or conservator of a minor or a guardian or conservator of an adult.  A guardian is a fiduciary who makes personal decisions for an incapacitated individual.  A conservator is a fiduciary who makes financial decisions for a protected individual.  The probate court  must determine whether a guardianship or conservatorship is legally appropriate and who should serve as the guardian or conservator. The probate court may also appoint a guardian for a developmentally disabled person.  If a person is a developmentally disabled person, any guardianship must be pursuant to the mental health code and not the probate code.   A guardian of the person or guardian of the estate may be appointed for a developmentally disable person.  The guardian of the person corresponds to a guardian of an adult under the probate code and a guardian of the estate corresponds to a conservator  under the probate code.

As an experienced probate law practitioner, I assist families in the filing and probate administration of estates for their loved ones who have died; the filing of Petitions for Guardianship and Conservatorship together with the court hearings that are necessary; and litigation concerning Wills and Trusts when there are disagreements concerning the provisions of those documents.