State Bar of Michigan
The National Trial Lawyers
The National Trial Lawyers
United States District Court
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Probate Administration

The probate of estates and the supervision of trusts makes up about one third of what a probate court does. 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 residue of 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 (mentally retarded adult) under the Michigan Mental Health Code. 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.

Involuntary Commitment Proceedings

The probate court is responsible for the involuntary commitment of the mentally ill. It has jurisdiction over any person who is a resident of the court's county or who is found in that county. It must determine if the person is mentally ill and if that person also meets the additional requirements that the person is either dangerous to himself or herself, dangerous to others or unable to take care of basic physical needs. After the probate court determines that an individual is a person requiring treatment, it must determine the duration and kind of treatment within the statutory requirements.

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