The Thinker

 

 


Wayne County Probate Court Employees: Access SurveyMonkey for employee screening.

Court Operations Update 5/22/20

The Wayne County Probate Court will not be physically accessible to the public and no in-person filings will be permitted until further notice. All hearings are to be conducted remotely via ZOOM until further notice. These extraordinary measures are in place to protect the public and our staff.

All filings of any type may be submitted by email, fax, or regular U.S. mail. Please review the following step-by-step instructions to help us process your filings as efficiently as possible. Please note that we are not an e-filing court and this is not an automated process. Individual people are receiving your emails and faxes and processing them either on-site or remotely with new procedures created in response to the public health crisis. You will not receive any communication confirming receipt of your filings. We appreciate your patience as we adapt to this new normal.

Note: If you are filing an original Will (with an Application or Petition for Probate, or otherwise), you must mail it with your Application/Petition. The court cannot receive them separately. If your original Will was previously submitted or is on file with the court already, you may submit your Application/Petition by email or fax.

If you believe your situation is an emergency, please review these guidelines and instructions:

Per Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order and guidance from the State Court Administrative Office, courts around the state are triaging case filings in order to process emergency and time-sensitive matters quickly. If your situation does not fit one of the following scenarios, you will have to INCLUDE DETAILS in your email or contact the courtroom directly to request an expedited hearing date after your filing has been accepted and processed.

• Proceedings regarding involuntary mental health treatment under Chapter 4 of the Mental Health Code, including the following:

o Pick-up / transportation orders pursuant to MCL 330.1436 and 330.1426;

o Petitions for initial or continuing involuntary hospitalization pursuant to MCL 330.1472a.

• Petitions for immediate funeral / burial arrangements pursuant to MCL 700.3206 and 700.3614.

• Emergency petitions filed by Adult Protective Services under MCL 400.11b(6).

• Emergency petitions for guardianship pursuant to MCL 700.5312

o where there is a life-threatening situation or the person needs emergency medical care that is not being provided without a guardian.

• Emergency conservatorships and other protective orders pursuant to MCL 700.5407

o where there are immediate pending evictions/foreclosures/shut off notices.

• Estates where immediate access to residence is necessary under MCL 700.3614.

• Ex-parte requests for temporary restraining orders.

To submit your emergency request by email or fax:

1. Ensure that your court forms are complete. Review the articles in the Information tab above for specific case types. All probate court forms are available to download here.
2. Include new SCAO form MC 505 with your email contact information. The court uses this new form to communicate with you quickly rather than relying on mail service. *If you are an attorney, this form is not required; the court automatically pulls the email address on file for you from the State Bar of Michigan directory.
3. Email: You must attach your filings to the email in one single PDF document. The court cannot accept a picture of the document. There are apps available to convert picture images to PDF. You must ensure the document is signed and then scanned or imaged to PDF format; the court cannot accept a typed “signature.” All paperwork must be complete and legible.
4. Fax: you must submit one complete document in each fax transmission (do not send separate pages in separate transmissions). All paperwork must be complete and legible.
5. Include “emergency” in your subject line or fax cover sheet with a brief description of the emergency.
6. Send to the correct email address or fax number depending on the type of filing. Department listing is available here: Where/How Do I File.
7. You should monitor the status of your filing by going to Case Access (header above) and searching the case number or name.
8. Your emergency petition will be processed as quickly as possible and a hearing date provided to you by email (so long as you provided one) within one to two business days.
9. If your emergency request has not been processed within 1-2 business days, you may contact the court to ensure it has been received.
10. Follow the instructions here to pay your fee online prior to the hearing.

To submit your non-emergency filings by email or fax:

1. Ensure that your court forms are complete. Review the articles in the Information tab above for specific case types. All court forms are available to download here.
2. Include the new SCAO form MC 505 with your email contact information. The court uses this new form to communicate with you quickly rather than relying on mail service. *If you are an attorney, this form is not required; the court automatically pulls the email address on file for you from the State Bar of Michigan directory.
3. Email: You must attach your filings to the email in one single PDF document. The court cannot accept a picture of the document. There are apps available to convert picture images to PDF. You must ensure the document is signed and then scanned or imaged to PDF format; the court cannot accept a typed “signature.” All paperwork must be complete and legible.
4. Fax: you must submit one complete document in each fax transmission (do not send separate pages in separate transmissions). All paperwork must be complete and legible.
5. Send to the correct email address or fax number depending on the type of filing. Department listing is available here: Where/How Do I File.
6. You should monitor the status of your filing by going to Case Access (header above) and searching the case number or name. Processing times are delayed as our limited staff adapts to these new procedures. Expect at least a week or two to process your filing. Please do not send follow-up emails asking whether your document has been accepted; this just adds to the volume of material our staff must respond to and slows down our processing times.

Filings that require a fee (initial petitions such as GA or CA cases, Petition and Order for Assignment, Applications/Petitions without an original Will, subsequent petitions):

7. FEES: Once you see your document has been accepted and a new case has been started or your document has been accepted, you MUST PAY THE FILING FEE associated with that filing. See the Fee Schedule. Follow the ePayment instructions here to pay your fee online with a credit/debit card or PayPal.
8. Once your filing has been accepted and processed, fees must be paid and there are no refunds. The fee is assessed at the time of filing not based on the results of your petition/hearing.

If your filing also requires a hearing (almost all petitions except for Petitions/Order for Assignment (small estates)):

9. After the fee is paid, you will receive BY EMAIL your notice of hearing packet, which includes the date and time of the hearing, the instructions to participate in the hearing via zoom, and a copy of your petition.
10. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to serve notice of the hearing on the interested parties and submit a proof of service to the court PRIOR TO THE HEARING. If publication is required, the Detroit Legal News is open and continuing to publish per their normal schedule. Contact them at cbasala@legalnews.com or 313 409-6398 to arrange for publication.
11. If your filing fee has not been paid or if you have not completed service (filed the proof of service with the court), YOUR HEARING WILL NOT GO FORWARD and your petition may be dismissed.
12. For questions related to the hearing, you may contact the courtroom (for the judge assigned to your case) directly using the directory Where/How Do I File.
13. Following the hearing held via Zoom, you will receive BY EMAIL your certified Letters of Authority and a copy of the Order, if granted. Letters ($12 each) must be paid for via ePayment in order to receive them.

For updated Letters:

1. If your Annual Report (GA/GM case) or Annual Account (CA/CY case) or Notice of Continued Administration (DE case) is due, the court must first receive and process that filing before issuing updated Letters. You may submit by email or fax. Please review the status of your filing by going to Case Access.
2. Once the filing has been processed and accepted, or if your Letters have not expired and you just need extra copies, please email: filedept@wcpc.us (for GA/GM Letters) or probateservice@wcpc.us (for DE/CA/CY Letters) to request the fee be added to your case. Continue to monitor Case Access to watch for the fee.
3. Pay the $12 fee per Letters online using ePayment. Email the court again once payment has been made.
4. Your updated Letters will be emailed to you (with the court’s new electronic seal).
5. If you send your Annual Report, Annual Account, or Notice of Continued Administration by regular U.S. mail, you may include a check or money order payable to Wayne County Probate Court for updated Letters and they will be mailed back to you or emailed to you if you provide an email address.

To submit your filings by regular U.S. mail:

1. Please mail complete packets to:

Wayne County Probate Court
1305 Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
2 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48226

2. If a fee is required, please include a check or money order payable to Wayne County Probate Court. See the Fee Schedule.
3. The court cannot return courtesy “received stamped” copies by mail during this time; please do not include stamped return envelopes as they will be discarded.
4. You may monitor your filing status under Case Access. Please note that in addition to our delayed processing times, we have also been experiencing delays with the U.S. mail. We appreciate your patience. You may want to send your documents “return receipt requested” to monitor their progress.
5. If you would like to receive documents by email, include form MC 505 with your mailed packet. Your Notice of Hearing, updated Letters, or other return documents will be emailed to you rather than mailed.

Additional Form links:

Fee waiver (attach a copy of your benefits statement/other identifying document)

MC 505

Other Important Information:

Electronic Certified Copies

The court has adopted a new electronic seal to certify copies, including Letters of Authority, that will be sent to you via email, if one has been provided to the court, instead of mailing out hard copies with the raised seal.

If you have any questions about the authenticity of the document being presented to you, please first view the case information under the "Case Access" tab above. The Register of Actions, including fiduciary and party names, is available to view online, although individual documents cannot be viewed online. If you are unable to verify the authenticity of the document online, please email info@wcpc.us for assistance.

Remote Hearings

• Please visit Case Access to view hearing information and contact the courtroom for Zoom instructions if needed.
• All hearings previously scheduled between March 16 through April 30th have been rescheduled to be held using Zoom.
• Hearings previously scheduled for the month of May will be held on schedule using ZOOM.
• Hearings scheduled June 1st or later will be held via ZOOM until further notice.

Publication and/or Notice to Unknown Creditors

For petitions where publication is required and\or notice to unknown creditors, please be aware that the Detroit Legal News is open and continuing to publish per their normal schedule. Contact them at cbasala@legalnews.com or 313 409-6398 to arrange for publication.

Notarization

Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-74 that encourages the use of remote notarization and visitation through June 30 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The text of the Order is available here. The Michigan State Bar is providing updates on their website here and here as well.

Self-Help Resources

All probate court forms are available to download here. Check our Information tab for general information about specific probate case types (opening a decedent’s estate or filing for guardianship).

The Wayne County Probate Bar Association provides a lawyer referral service and your first consultation is free: 1-800-357-7090.

Michigan Legal Help is a website with several articles covering probate topics and you can also search for legal aid organizations that serve your area or topic.

Use of technology to conduct hearings of all types remotely during this health crisis is based on the Administrative Order 2020-6 issued by the Michigan Supreme Court. SCAO has many helpful resources for participating in remote hearings and other materials related to court capacities around the state.

Questions\Further Information

Questions may be directed to info@wcpc.us. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we face this public health challenge together.

 

Performance

Performance

Judges of Probate

Hon. Freddie G. Burton, Jr., Chief Judge
Hon. David Braxton, Chief Judge Pro Tempore
Hon. Judy A. Hartsfield
Hon. Frank S. Szymanski
Hon. Terrance A. Keith
Hon. Lisa Marie Neilson
Hon. Lawrence J. Paolucci
Hon. David A. Perkins