There is a probate court in each Michigan county with the exception of ten counties that have consolidated to form five probate court districts. Each district has one judge, and each of the remaining counties has one or more judges depending in large part on the population and caseload within the county.


The probate court has jurisdiction over cases pertaining to admission of wills, administration of estates and trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, and the treatment of mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons.


The probate court had exclusive jurisdiction in such matters as juvenile delinquency, neglect, abuse, and adoption proceedings. In 1998 the Legislature created the family division in the circuit court and moved delinquency cases, neglect and abuse cases, adoption proceedings, name changes and other ancillary family matters from the probate court to the circuit court.


Probate judges are elected on a non-partisan ballot for six-year terms. A candidate must be a qualified elector, a resident of the judicial circuit, a lawyer and under 70 years of age. The Legislature sets their salaries, which may be supplemented by counties.