Probate Court

Michigan Probate Courts

There is a probate court in each Michigan county with the exception of ten counties which 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 traditionally has had exclusive jurisdiction in such matters as juvenile delinquency, abuse and neglect, adoptions, administration of estates and trusts, guardianships and conservatorships and mental commitments.

In 1998, the Legislature created the family division in the circuit court and moved juvenile delinquency, abuse and neglect, adoptions, name changes, emancipation of minors, waivers of parental consent and other ancillary family matters from the probate court to the circuit court. The probate court now hears cases pertaining to guardianships, conservatorships, the commitment for hospital care of the mentally ill, and administration of estates and trusts. However, the probate court isn’t needed at all times regarding these instances.

Probate judges are elected on a nonpartisan ballot for six year terms, subject to the same requirements as other judges. The Legislature sets the salary for probate judges.

Branch County Probate Court

The mission of the Probate Court for the County of Branch is to serve the public by exercising its legal jurisdiction and responsibility as set forth in the State Constitution, the Michigan Probate and Mental Health Codes and Court Rules.

As contrasted with federal and circuit courts, which derive much of their power from the U.S. Constitution, Michigan probate courts obtain their authority from statutes authored by the Michigan State Legislature.

The probate court is a civil court; that is, it is service-oriented, it relates to the private rights of citizens and provides protection for people who are for specific reasons vulnerable. The remedies sought through action in probate court are considered distinct from criminal proceedings.

Since the responsibility of the probate court is to properly dispose of matters legally before the court and to serve the public, the court must advocate and work openly and collaboratively with all legal, political, public and private agencies to provide services to those unable to protect themselves, and on behalf of communities which have a right to be safe.

Branch County Probate Court’s jurisdiction is primarily:

  • Estate Proceedings
  • Guardianships and Conservatorships
  • Mental Health Proceedings
  • Adoptions

COVID-19 Provisions:

Michigan Supreme Court’s Administrative orders issued to protect the public during the COVID pandemic pursuant to the Michigan Constitution, Article VI, Section 4 are STILL IN EFFECT. To that end, Branch County Courts are required to continue adhering to guidance regarding FACE COVERINGS, SOCIAL DISTANCING, and COURT CAPACITY.

Generally, Family Division, Juvenile Court proceedings are open to the public.  However, there may be health and safety reasons that result in participants being unable or uncomfortable to appear in person.

As a result, Branch County Juvenile Court is providing alternative, remote access via Zoom.

To access by phone only (no VIDEO):

DIAL 646 876 9923 and enter Meeting ID 512 545 9051

To access by Windows Desktops and Laptops:

Go to Zoom Website (, click on “join a call” and enter using Meeting ID 512 545 9051

To access by Android or Apple Phones and Tablets:

Download the Zoom app from the app store prior to the hearing and then use Meeting ID 512 545 9051 to join


Probate Court

Monday – Friday
8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Probate Court:

Juvenile Unit:

Probate Court:

Juvenile Unit:

Probate Court
31 Division St.
Coldwater, MI 49036

Kirk Kashian
Probate Judge

Wendy Gensch
Attorney / Referee

Dalyn Cummings
Juvenile Register

Marcia Burns
Probate Register

Emily Katz
CASA of Branch County Coordinator