Trusts & Wills
Wills are a written document in which a person makes a disposition of his or her property to take effect after his or her death. A Testator is a person who’s made a will. There is no requirement to “record” a will. However, during a person’s lifetime, he or she may deposit a will with the Probate Court for safekeeping. During that person’s lifetime, the fact that a will may be held for safekeeping is not a public record.
Wills Held for Safekeeping
- For a $25 fee, a Testator may deposit a will with the court for safekeeping. The will must be in a sealed envelope, on which must be written the Testator’s full name, date of birth, address, and the last four digits of their social security number.
- During the Testator’s lifetime, the will is not a public record and may only be removed by the Testator or by his/her designee. Designees must use the Authorization to Release Will held for Safekeeping (PC 548.)
- After the Testator’s death, a will may be deposited with the court at no charge, provided a copy of the death certificate is filed.
- Upon filing of a death certificate, the will becomes a public record and the court will retain the original will. Copies of the will may be obtained for $1.50 per page.
- If a decedent estate has been opened with the court, the original will is part of the court file and may be viewed or a copy obtained.
A trust may be “registered” with the Probate Court, whereby the trustee gives the court his name and address and acknowledges the trusteeship, but an actual copy of the trust is not required to be filed with the statement registering the trust. (See MCL 700.7209 & .7210) The filing fee for registration of a trust is $25. These files are accessible to the public and have the case code: TR.
If a trust needs to be modified or supervised by the court, a petition may be filed in the Probate Court. The filing fee is $175. If a trustee of a court-supervised trust is ordered to file accounts with the court, the same account requirements for conservators apply.