Basic Probate Court Jurisdiction

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					                                                 Probate Court


         Basic Probate Court
             Jurisdiction
                               by Lisa Langton
                        Family Division Administrator -
                           Probate/Juvenile Register




T
       he probate courts in Michigan have exclusive juris-              EPIC further
       diction over all matters relating to the settlement of a      defines that the
       decedent’s estate, whether testate or intestate, who          probate courts have
was domiciled in Michigan or domiciled out-of-state leaving          concurrent legal
an estate within Michigan to be administered. This includes:         and equitable jurisdiction over matters defined below in
 • All internal affairs of the estate                                regard to an estate of a decedent, protected individual,
 • Estate administration                                             ward or trust:
 • Settlement and distribution                                        • Determine a property right or interest
 • Declaration of rights involving estates devisees heirs of          • Authorize partition of property
   fiduciary                                                          • Authorize or compel specific performance of a contract
 • Construction of a will, determination of heirs                       in a joint or mutual will or a contract to leave property
 • Determination of death of an accident or disaster victim             by a will
   under Section 1208 (MCLA 700.1302(a)).                             • Ascertain if individuals have survived as provided in
                                                                        this act
    The probate courts also have exclusive jurisdiction over
                                                                      • Determine cy pres or a gift grant request or devisee in a
all proceedings that concern the validity, internal affairs, or
                                                                        trust
settlement of a trust; the administration, distribution,
                                                                      • Hear and decide actions against the distributee or
modification, reformation or termination of a trust; or
                                                                        fiduciary of the estate to enforce liability that arises
declaration of a right that involves a trust, trustee or trust
                                                                        because the estate was liable upon a claim or demand
beneficiary. Trust jurisdiction includes but is not limited to
                                                                        before distribution of the estate
the following proceedings:
                                                                      • Impose a constructive trust
 • Appointment or removal of a trustee
                                                                      • Hear and decide a claim by or against fiduciary or trust
 • Review of trustee fees
                                                                        for the return of property
 • The settlement of interim or final accounts
                                                                      • Hear and decide a contract, proceeding or action by or
 • The ascertainment of beneficiaries
                                                                        against an estate, trust ward
 • Questions arising during the administration or distribu-
                                                                      • Settle accountings of agents under powers of attorneys
    tion of a trust, including the construction of a will or trust
                                                                      • Bar an incapacitated or minor wife of her dower right
 • Termination of the existence or nonexistence of immu-
                                                                        (MCLA 700.1303)
    nity, power, privilege, duty or right
 • Registration of trust                                                There are also two specific forms of civil actions that can
 • Actions involving settlement of an irrevocable trust              be commenced at the probate court. MCR 5.101(C) states
    (MCLA 700.1302(b)).                                              that any action against another filed by a fiduciary and any
                                                                     action filed by a claimant after notice that the claim has
   The probate court also has exclusive jurisdiction over
                                                                     been disallowed can be commenced in probate court. These
proceedings that concern guardianships, conservatorships
                                                                     are commenced by filing a complaint titled “Civil Action”
or protective proceedings (except as provided in Section
                                                                     with the appropriate probate court. Please note that these
1021) (MCLA 700.1302(b)).
                                                                     civil actions are governed by the rules that are applicable to
   Finally, probate courts have exclusive jurisdiction over
                                                                     civil actions in circuit court.
any of the proceedings to require, hear or settle the ac-
                                                                        If you have any specific questions or concerns with
counts of a fiduciary and to order, upon request of an
                                                                     respect to the exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction of the
interested party, instructions or directions to a fiduciary
                                                                     probate court, please contact Jill Koney Daly or me at your
that concern an estate within the court’s jurisdiction
                                                                     convenience. Stay tuned.
(MCLA 700.1302(d)).

                                                                                                                 May 2004 • 29