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Michigan Probate Court Matters

Conservatorship · Guardianship · Decedents’ Estates

Facing Probate Issues? Call Jon Frank

Many MI Lawyers Do Not Handle Probate Cases - Hire One Who Does

Friend/Loved One Who Cannot Care For Themselves? What To Do?

Are you responsible for the medical care for someone like this, but the doctors/hospital will not disclose any information, due to confidentiality rules? Do you or someone in your life want to make your wishes known, as far as a temporary medical condition, or “end of life care”?

Is there someone in your life who is vulnerable financially, due to advancing age, dementia, or mental illness? Has a young person, a minor in your life, come into money, due to a lawsuit or personal injury settlement? Maybe you are fortunate enough to be able to spend significant vacation time away from your home (especially during Michigan’s cold winters!), and need to have someone represent you – temporarily – while you are away.

Generally speaking, there are four different types of Michigan Courts. There are Circuit and District Courts, which hear the same types of cases; however, Circuit Courts generally hear higher value civil cases, and more severe criminal cases, while District Courts typically hear cases of lesser value and severity. You may have also heard of Small Claims Courts, which hear civil cases, with less than $2,500.00 at stake.

The fourth type of Michigan Court is the Probate Court, which hears matters involving Guardianships, Conservatorships, decedents’ estates, mental health commitment hearings, as well as hearings for developmentally disabled persons.

Reporting Requirements

One thing that Guardianships, Conservatorships, and Decedents’ Estates have in common, is that periodic reporting is required. Guardians are required to report annually on the condition of the person under their care; Conservators and “Personal Representatives” of Decedents’ Estates are required to report annually on the intake and disposition of funds & property. Failure to make these reports in a timely way, could result in your removal as “fiduciary”, a word that describes a Guardian, a Conservator, or a Personal Representative.

Probate Guardianships & Conservatorships protect vulnerable persons.

Decedents’ Estates protect your heirs & can help you be sure that your property passes to your heirs — or doesn’t — as you see fit.

Probate Court Matters. Understand Your Rights in Michigan.

The next area of Probate Court jurisdiction, is that of decedents' estates. These estates are handled differently, depending on how much, and what kind of assets are involved, whether Court supervision is required or desired, whether there is a will or not, and on other factors too numerous, and case-specific to list out here... Continue reading.

Property distributed by intestate succession, is distributed to intestate heirs, as described below, in the following order:
.. Continue reading.

As adults, we all make personal decisions for ourselves, like where we will live, what medical decisions we make, etc.  When someone cannot make those decisions for themselves, they need someone to make those decisions for them; when that decision-maker is appointed by the court, they are referred to as a "Guardian".  The case is called a "Guardianship", and the protected/legally disabled person is sometimes called a "ward"... Continue reading.

The Client Bill of Rights

Get Yours.

Client Bill of Rights

  1. 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee
  2. 48-Hour Open Door Policy
  3. The Lawyer You Hire Is The Lawyer Who Works on Your Case
  4. Candid Explanations in Plain Simple English
  5. An Idea Where Your Case is Heading
  6. One-Day Returned Phone Call/E-Mail/Text Policy
  7. Cell Phone Access to Your Lawyer
  8. Constant Immediate Updating
  9. You Have A Right to A Lawyer Who Will Respect Nos. 1-8 Above

Being a client sucks. It is a terrible and anxious experience, and I know, because I am not only a lawyer, but I have been a client before, myself. It can be awful, and the lawyer you hire should not make it worse.

Because different lawyers do different work, the problems that bring you to a lawyer will vary. However, one thing is in common: you have to put yourself and a highly sensitive problem into the hands of another person.  It means that there is a loss of control. A cloud hanging over your head.

Just you hire me to protect your rights, you have rights THAT EVERY LAWYER SHOULD BE WILLING TO PROTECT.  

I AM.

CLIENT BILL OF RIGHTS

1. 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee

You have a right to be satisfied, and soon, that I am hard at work on your matter, and that your case is not “just another case”, but it is my cause.  I cannot guarantee outcomes of personal injury, criminal, or other court matters.  

However, if you are not completely satisfied within the first 30 days, or before the first Court appearance, whichever is sooner, that I am working hard on your case, then you can come get your file, or I will send it to you, and you can go hire another lawyer. 

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE COMPLETELY SATISFIED THAT I AM WORKING HARD ON YOUR MATTER, AND THAT YOUR CASE IS MY CAUSE.  

2. 48-Hour Open Door Policy

If you feel that you need to sit down with me face-to-face to discuss your case, I WILL CLEAR MY SCHEDULE, SETTING ASIDE TIME TO MEET WITH YOU IN MY OFFICE.  Even if I am in the middle of trial, I will meet with you within 48 hours. 

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO MEET WITH ME AT MY OFFICE, WITHIN 48 HOURS OF YOUR REQUEST, AND TO EXPECT ME TO CLEAR MY SCHEDULE, TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

3. The Lawyer You Hire Is The Lawyer Who Works on Your Case 

When you hire Jon Frank and The Frank Law Firm, PC, you hire Jon Frank.  You will not be shunted off to associates who are off-camera, and whose faces do not appear on websites, or TV advertising.  I am the lawyer who will answer your calls.

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT THAT THE LAWYER YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO HIRE, IS THE ONE WHO IS ACTUALLY WORKING ON YOUR CASE.

4. Candid Explanations in Plain Simple English

Personal injury, no-fault, and criminal matters, while commonly settled “out of court”, are ultimately matters decided “in court”, and therefore, no guarantees can be made as to outcome.  Anyone who says otherwise, is not being truthful with you. 

So, too, where you hire me to deed a property into trust, handle a probate matter, or anything else that I might do as your lawyer, there is a process that we must follow, and as the “paying customer”, you are entitled to understand just what that process is.

These are often complex matters that need to be explained to you, by your lawyer.  Not only should your lawyer GLADLY explain the process to you, your lawyer should explain to you, in plain simple English – without formal, condescending “legalese”.

Not every lawyer is willing to give their client a full and candid explanation, for good or ill, and in plain simple English, of just what is going on with their case.

I AM.

THEREFORE, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING ON WITH YOUR CASE, AND TO KEEP ASKING ME TO EXPLAIN IT, UNTIL YOU DO UNDERSTAND. 

Lawyers are paid to provide a service, and should not complain, when their clients ask for the service they have paid for.

5. An Idea Where Your Case is Heading 

As I just mentioned, there is a process that your matter will follow, from start to finish.  One of the biggest causes of client stress, is not knowing just what that process is – ahead of time.  Knowing what road you will be taking, makes the trip easier, not just as a traveler on an Interstate, but also as a client in a legal matter. 

THEREFORE, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW IN ADVANCE, WHERE YOUR CASE IS HEADING, AS TO:

6. One-Day Returned Phone Call/E-Mail/Text Policy 

If it is important enough for you to reach out to me, to call, e-mail, or text, it is important enough for me to return the communication, and to do so promptly. 

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT ME WITHIN ONE BUSINESS DAY, TO:

7. Cell Phone Access to Your Lawyer

You have just hired me to help you through one of the most sensitive, gut-wrenching episodes you will ever have in your life, as long as you live. 

One of the deepest expressions of trust, one human being can give another, is to be vulnerable enough to ask for help.  By hiring me as your lawyer, that is what you have done.  Therefore, I make a point of giving my clients my cell phone number, so that they can contact me, day or night, 24/7/365, by phone or text message

While you ARE WELCOME TO MY CELL PHONE NUMBER, I have enabled my land lines, (586) 727-1900 and (877) FRANK-LAW (372-6552) to receive text messages. While I may not always be available to talk, I want to make it easy for you to contact me; if I am not readily available, I will get back to you, often within minutes or hours, but always within one business day.

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO MY CELL PHONE NUMBER, AND TO HAVE ACCESS TO ME 24/7/365 BY CELL PHONE AND TEXT MESSAGE.  

8. Constant Immediate Updating 

It is bad enough to have to put your life in someone else’s hands.  When you have to put your life into my hands, you have an absolute right to be kept updated as to the progress of your matter.  My policy is to send a copy to you, by email, of all correspondence I send to other people (lawyers, insurance companies, prosecutors, police agencies, etc.).  

Receiving copies by email, will enable you to see what I am doing on your case, as I am doing it.

I will send you email copies, usually by “blind copy”, to protect your email privacy; sometimes, I will forward to you, a previously sent email. If you do not have email, then I will send you copies of outgoing correspondence, by regular mail. 

YOU HAVE AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO BE COPIED ON ALL OUTGOING CORRESPONDENCE ON YOUR MATTER, BY E-MAIL, OR BY REGULAR MAIL, WHEN THAT CORRESPONDENCE IS BEING SENT.

9. You Have A Right To A Lawyer Who Will Respect Nos. 1-8 Above 

If you are looking for a lawyer who can help guide you through your injury matter to a great recovery, at the earliest possible time, or someone who can help protect your rights in a drunk driving, or criminal matter, you have a right to a lawyer who will respect these rights you have as a client.

As a client, you should never have to worry or wonder if your lawyer cares about your rights as a client, or whether they respect you as a human being.  You deserve, and have a right to a lawyer, who will do both.

TEXT OR CALL ME, Jon Frank, at 877-FRANK-LAW, or at (586) 727-1900, if you want me to protect your rights as a citizen – and as a client.  You can email me as well, at jon@jonfranklaw.com.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Frequently Asked Probate Court Matters Questions. Michigan Based Legal Answers.

Do I Have to Hire a Lawyer?

No, but you will probably want to do so. Probate Court forms are designed to be easy enough to complete, and the Probate Court (perhaps more than other courts) is receptive to unrepresented parties, be they Petitioners or Respondents... Load complete answer.

No, but you will probably want to do so. Probate Court forms are designed to be easy enough to complete, and the Probate Court (perhaps more than other courts) is receptive to unrepresented parties, be they Petitioners or Respondents.

However, because probate procedure can be downright baffling, your rights will best be represented by having an experienced attorney like Jon Frank, representing you in your probate matter.

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What Are "Interested Persons"?

There are different classes of individuals and entities (such as governmental agencies and insurance companies) deemed to be interested in the outcome of a particular Probate Court petition. Who these interested persons are, will vary, depending on the particular type of probate court proceeding involved. The description of interested persons in approximately 35 different types of proceedings is set forth in Michigan Court Rule (MCR 5.125)... Load complete answer.

There are different classes of individuals and entities (such as governmental agencies and insurance companies) deemed to be interested in the outcome of a particular Probate Court petition. Who these interested persons are, will vary, depending on the particular type of probate court proceeding involved. The description of interested persons in approximately 35 different types of proceedings is set forth in Michigan Court Rule (MCR 5.125).

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Do I Have to Give Notice to Family Member Who Had Nothing To Do With Decedent?

Yes. Understandably, Michigan law does not want to get in the middle of disputes between family members. In its administration of even-handed justice, the Judge does not know, nor can it possibly care about the merits of family disputes. The lack of relationship may or may not be relevant to distribution issues... Load complete answer.

Yes. Understandably, Michigan law does not want to get in the middle of disputes between family members. In its administration of even-handed justice, the Judge does not know, nor can it possibly care about the merits of family disputes. The lack of relationship may or may not be relevant to distribution issues.

The requirement of notice to interested persons is to ensure that everyone is heard on the merits of distribution issues. It also helps to protect the fiduciary from a claim that they did not notify a particular potential beneficiary about an estate proceeding.

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Do I Have to Give Notice to Family Member Who Was Abusive Toward The Decedent?

Yes. Understandably, Michigan law does not want to get in the middle of disputes between family members. In its administration of even-handed justice, the Judge does not know, nor can it possibly care about the merits of family disputes. The allegedly abusive relationship may or may not be relevant to distribution issues. .. Load complete answer.

Yes. Understandably, Michigan law does not want to get in the middle of disputes between family members. In its administration of even-handed justice, the Judge does not know, nor can it possibly care about the merits of family disputes. The allegedly abusive relationship may or may not be relevant to distribution issues. 

The requirement of notice to interested persons is to ensure that everyone is heard on the merits of distribution issues. It also helps to protect the fiduciary from a claim that they did not notify a particular potential beneficiary about an estate proceeding.

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What If I Do Not Want To Serve as Fiduciary?

No probate judge in America will make you serve, if you do not want to. There are SCAO forms, by which you can renounce your priority for appointment as Estate PR. .. Load complete answer.

No probate judge in America will make you serve, if you do not want to. There are SCAO forms, by which you can renounce your priority for appointment as Estate PR. 

The worst case scenario is that you will have to show up to court, on the date set for your appointment as fiduciary, and tell the judge you do not want to serve. The judge may explain why you might want to change your mind, but if you are dead set against serving as Estate PR, no judge will force you to do so. The same applies, if you are nominated to serve as someone’s Guardian or Conservator, and if you do not want to serve.

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What If I Want Nothing From The Estate?

Just as you can renounce your priority for appointment as fiduciary, so too, you can advise the Estate PR that you renounce any share you might get in a will, or by intestate succession. Indeed, it is the same SCAO form, called a “Renunciation”.

Just as you can renounce your priority for appointment as fiduciary, so too, you can advise the Estate PR that you renounce any share you might get in a will, or by intestate succession. Indeed, it is the same SCAO form, called a “Renunciation”.

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Does The Conservator/Estate PR Get All The Money?

No, at least not by virtue of being the Estate PR. However, different facts, irrelevant to their appointment as fiduciary, may result in them getting all the money. Sometimes, the person named as Estate PR has paid for the funeral, and there is either not enough, or barely enough to reimburse them, for having paid for the funeral; funeral expense is a priority reimbursement under Michigan probate law. Another example, might be where a surviving spouse is named as Estate PR, and the amount to be distributed is less than the spousal intestate share, to which he/she is entitled... Load complete answer.

No, at least not by virtue of being the Estate PR. However, different facts, irrelevant to their appointment as fiduciary, may result in them getting all the money. Sometimes, the person named as Estate PR has paid for the funeral, and there is either not enough, or barely enough to reimburse them, for having paid for the funeral; funeral expense is a priority reimbursement under Michigan probate law. Another example, might be where a surviving spouse is named as Estate PR, and the amount to be distributed is less than the spousal intestate share, to which he/she is entitled.

Again, they will not simply “get the money” just because they are named as Conservator/Estate PR. Indeed, they will have to account to all interested persons for the monies that are taken, and a wise fiduciary, will always ask for a court order, allowing them to take the funds, e.g., in one of the two situations above, or in another situation, where they would take all, or most of the money in an estate.

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