Michigan’s Probate Courts were established to handle specific matters of probate and estates. Probate Courts have exclusive and limited jurisdiction over matters of probate. The state has 78 Probate Courts in 6 districts with 103 judges presiding. The judges are elected in their residential region, and they serve six-year terms.
The types of cases heard in Probate Court are trusts, estate legal matters, guardianships, conservatorships, orders for the treatment and commitment of mentally ill persons along with adoptions and name changes. For the most part, Probate Courts do not use juries, and one of the 103 judges hear cases and make decisions. However, on occasion, a jury trial may be requested in Probate Court.
Many people who end up in Probate Court are self-represented, and therefore, the Michigan Courts website has a lot of helpful resources to assist when proceeding with a probate case in the state. They offer law libraries of information, an entire forms section so people can download all the forms necessary to file motions, objections and start a case in Probate Court. They also list each judge and their credentials with background information. As always, the Court Clerk’s office is available to answer questions and offer resources. They are not allowed to provide legal advice, but they can assist someone through the process. The website has e-filing and other electronic services to look up case information and pay filing fees online.
Anyone with a disability can contact the court for proper accommodations. Additionally, if they don’t speak English, the court offers interpreter services as well.
Probate Court is part of the trial court system in Michigan, and the Supreme Court Chief Judge published a newsletter of success stories from the Probate Court division about how Michigan supports and helps its residents.