ABOUT PROBATE COURT
Honorable Susan L. Dobrich
Court Administrator & Referee, Carol Montavon Bealor
Probate Register, Kelley James-Jura
Deputy Probate Register, Linda Kramb
Probate Clerk, Cheryl Hess
The Probate Court is Michigan’s oldest court. The Constitution of Michigan provides that “The jurisdiction, powers, and duties of the Probate Court and of the Judges thereof shall be provided by law”. The legislature, through the enactment of various statutes, has defined the specific work of the Probate Court.
One of the many areas of jurisdiction of the Court is the settlement of estates of deceased persons. If a person dies with assets that do not pass by survivorship to another person or by other means, such as a trust, that person’s estate must be “probated”, which is a process of clearing title to assets for the persons entitled to them. Even if an individual established a trust, there may be situations where trust issues come before the Probate Court.
The Probate Court is also responsible for matters involving the protection of individuals under the Estates and Protect Individuals Code (EPIC). The Court has jurisdiction to appoint a conservator to handle the financial affairs of an adult if they are unable to do so because of mental illness, mental incompetency, physical illness or disability, or some other reason that would cause their property to be wasted or dissipated without proper management. A conservator could also be appointed for a minor if the minor has property that needs management, such as a settlement of a personal injury case or as a beneficiary of an estate or insurance policy. The Probate Court can appoint a guardian for an adult who is legally incapacitated such that they lack sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate informed decisions. A guardian can also be appointed for a minor who needs proper care and custody.
Matters brought under the Mental Health Code, like involuntary hospitalization, are also heard by the Probate Court. Specifically, the Court has jurisdiction to determine whether or not a person is in need of treatment for mental illness. The basis for the ability of the Court to order treatment is outlined in the Mental Health Code which, along with the court rules, outlines the procedure leading up to the decision of the Court. The treatment of the person could take place in a public institution, private hospital, or in the community in an assisted-outpatient treatment program. Also brought under the Mental Health Code are requests for the appointment of a guardian for an individual who has a developmental disability.
There are a variety of other matters that are processed through the Probate Court like protective orders, drain appeals, secret marriages, delayed registration of births, and wills for safekeeping. There are many other areas of Probate Court jurisdiction, which have been defined by the legislature through the enactment of statutes.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Disclaimer: This website is intended to provide you with general information and forms regarding probate proceedings. The Courts’ staff are prohibited by law from providing legal advice and assistance in completing forms. The information, forms, and instructions are intended to provide general information concerning filing procedures and may be useful as a guide. This is the only assistance that can be provided by the court’s staff. If, after reviewing this information, you have any questions or need assistance in completing the forms consider contacting an attorney for assistance.