Probate Court FAQs
Do I need an attorney?
An attorney is not required, but it is recommended that you seek legal counsel if you are unsure about any aspect of the procedures.
Will the court tell me what to do?
By law, the court staff may not give legal advice, but staff may give forms and explain procedures.
Why can't court employees give legal advice?
Only lawyers may give legal advice. The probate staff members are not lawyers and are prohibited by law from giving legal advice (MCL 700.1211). However, they may explain procedure.
Do I need a will?
If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. This may or may not be how you wish your assets to be distributed. Because everyone has unique circumstances, seeking an attorney's advice is recommended.
How does a will become operative?
A will becomes operative when it is admitted by the court in a probate proceeding after the testator's death.
I am named the executor in a will. Why do I need to open a deceased estate?
The current term for "executor" is personal representative. A will only nominates a personal representative. The personal representative does not have the power to act on behalf of the estate until the probate court grants power. Therefore, proceedings must be commenced in probate court.
What must be probated?
Any assets that are held solely in the decedent's name.
What is the difference between a conservatorship and guardianship?
A conservator has responsibility over the ward's finances, whereas the guardian has responsibility over the ward's health care and well being.