You have just signed your Last Will and Testament and you might be wondering where you should keep it. Some options include storing it with your other important paperwork, having your attorney keep it, depositing it in a safe deposit box, or depositing it with the probate court. The reasons why some may choose to file their will with the Probate Court is for confidentiality and safekeeping.
*If you are interested in learning more about creating a will, the Michigan Legal Help website has a tool-kit on that topic.
DEPOSITING YOUR WILL WITH CASS COUNTY PROBATE COURT
Wills that are placed on file with the Cass County Probate Court are not public records during your (the testator’s) lifetime. Therefore, your will and any information regarding your will, will not be released to anyone except you or a person you designate. A copy of the document can only be released upon proof of death.
You must be a Cass County resident to deposit your will with the Cass County Probate Court. There is a $25 filing fee to do so. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, please review the Wills for Safekeeping Handout.
RETRIEVAL OF WILLS
During your lifetime, you may retrieve your will at any time. However, there will be a $25 fee each time your will is re-deposited. To retrieve your will, you must present your will receipt, if available, and personal identification (either your driver’s license or state ID card). If you are unable to present yourself personally, you may request your will by mail. However, you must complete and forward the Authorization to Release Will Held for Safekeeping Form (PC 548), to the court before your will is released.
WILL LOCATED IN A SAFE DEPOSIT BOX
If you are searching for a will for an individual that passed away, the Probate Court may order the opening of a safe deposit box to locate a will or burial deed. To learn more about this process, please see the section below.
PETITION AND ORDER TO OPEN SAFE DEPOSIT BOX TO LOCATE A WILL OR BURIAL DEED
Per MCL 700.2517, an interested person can file a Petition and Order to Open Safe Deposit Box to Locate Will or Burial Deed Form (PC551) if:
- The safe deposit box is located in Cass County, and
- A copy of the decedent’s death certificate is provided to the Cass County Probate Court along with PC551
- The fee for this matter is $21.00 total ($10.00 filing fee, plus $11.00 for the certified copy of the order).
Once the Probate Court Judge signs the Order, a certified copy of the order should be taken to the financial institution. An officer or other authorized employee of the financial institution where the box is located must be present when the box is opened. The petitioner and the representative from the financial institution must complete the Safe Deposit Certificate and Receipt Form PC552. The completed form must be filed with the Probate Court within seven (7) days. If an alleged Will or deed to a burial plot is found in the box, the person named in the order must deliver the documents to the Probate Register or deputy register.