The Constitution of Michigan provides that "The jurisdiction, powers and duties of the Probate Court and 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.
The Probate Court has jurisdiction over cases pertaining to admission of wills, administration of estates and trusts, treatment of mentally ill, guardianship and conservatorships for minors, adults, and adults who are developmentally disabled.
There are many other areas of Probate Court jurisdiction, which have been defined by the legislature through the enactment of statutes.
In addition to the above roles, the Probate Judge also acts as a Family Court Judge dealing with Juvenile delinquency, child abuse and neglect cases, name changes, adoptions, emancipation proceedings, divorce, custody and paternity cases which overlap with the traditional juvenile caseload, to assure that one judge handles all family issues for one family.
Probate Court handles various types of cases, including:
- Decedent’s estates and supervision of trusts
- Small estates
- Guardianships and/or conservatorships of both children and adults
- Guardianships for developmentally disabled individuals
- Protective Orders
- Mental Health Proceedings
- Drain Appeals
- Secret marriages
- Order treatment for people with contagious diseases who refuse treatment.
- Delayed registrations of foreign birth
- Wavier of Parental Consent
- Applications to open safe deposit boxes
- Will deposit for decedent or deposit for safekeeping
- Registration of Trusts
In compliance with The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Presque Isle County Probate Court of the State of Michigan invites individuals with disabilities who require special accommodations to participate in court hearings or other court business to contact the Presque Isle County Courthouse in order to request an accommodation.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process whereby a court oversees the distribution of assets left by a deceased person’s will. Assets are anything a person owns with value, such as real and personal property and cash, for instance.
When is probate needed?
Probate is not always necessary. If the deceased person owned bank accounts or property with another person, the surviving co-owner often will then own that property automatically. If a person dies leaving very few assets, such as personal belongings or household goods, these items can be distributed among the rightful beneficiaries without the supervision of the court.
Sometimes probate is needed to:
- Clear title to land, stocks and bonds, or large bank or savings and loan accounts that were held in the name of the deceased person only, and put the title to these assets in the names of the rightful beneficiaries.
- Collect debts owed to the deceased person.
- Settle a dispute between people who claim they are entitled to assets of the deceased person.
- Resolve any disputes about the validity of the deceased person’s will.
What happens during the probate process?
The will is "proved" and delivered to the court. The deceased person’s will can be proved by an affidavit made under oath by the witnesses to the will. If such an affidavit is unavailable, the personal presence of the witnesses will be required in court to testify that at the time the will was signed, the deceased person was of sound mind and knew what he or she was doing.
A personal representative is selected. A personal representative is someone who handles the deceased person’s affairs. A will generally names a personal representative who, if willing to serve and otherwise qualified, will be approved by the court. If a person dies without a will, the court will select the personal representative, usually the spouse, an adult child or another close relative. If none of those people are available or willing to be the personal representative, the court may choose a bank, trust company or lawyer.
A notice to creditors is published in a local newspaper. This public notice to creditors tells the creditors that they have four months to bring any claim against the estate for debts the deceased person owes them. The personal representative also gives written notice to all known and possible creditors.