What Is the Importance of Registering a Michigan Trust?

If you have a trust in Michigan, state law provides that you can register the trust. Registering a Michigan trust is not required (except for certain charitable trusts, as discussed below). Even for non-charitable trusts, there are good reasons that a trust should be registered.

How Is a Trust Registered?

Provisions of Michigan’s Estate and Protected Individuals Act — commonly referred to as EPIC — establish trust registration rules about who may register the trust and where registration should occur. Those rules are as follows:

The trustee of a trust with its principal location of administration in Michigan may register the trust with the probate court in the location specified in the trust document. If no place is indicated in the trust, registration is at the principal location of administration, which is defined as:

  • The trustee’s normal place of business where the trust records are maintained;
  • If there is no place of business, the trustee’s residence; or
  • If the trustee is a corporation, the business location of the primary trust officer for the trust.

If the trust has co-trustees, and the place of registration is not indicated in the trust document, the principal place of administration is one of the following:

  • If there is only one corporate co-trustee, that trustee’s normal place of business;
  • If there is only one individual professional fiduciary and no corporate trustee, the fiduciary’s place of business or residence; or
  • If there is no corporate trustee and no individual professional fiduciary, the usual place of business or residence of any of the trustees, by agreement of the co-trustees.

What Is Included in the Registration?

The Michigan statute does not require the trust document to be filed as part of the registration. To register the trust, the trustee files a statement that includes the trustee’s name and address and acknowledges the trusteeship. There are several ways to identify the trust in the registration statement:

  • If the trust is created in a will, the statement must include the name of the person who created the trust (referred to as the settlor) and the location of the domiciliary or primary probate, which usually is the place of the settlor’s permanent residence.
  • For a living trust established during the lifetime of the person(s) creating it, the statement must include the name of the settlor(s) and original trustee, date of the document, and dates of all amendments existing on the registration date.
  • For an oral trust, the statement must include information that identifies the settlor or source of property; specifies the time and manner of creation and terms of the trust; and describes the subject matter, beneficiaries, and time of performance.

In addition, if the trust was previously registered in another jurisdiction, registration in Michigan will not be effective until the earlier registration is released by a court order from that jurisdiction or by a document signed by the trustee and all qualified beneficiaries. The court order or document must be filed with the Michigan registration.

Why Should a Trust Be Registered?

Registration of a trust does not give the probate court authority over administration of the trust, unless a dispute arises over the trust. If a dispute does arise, registration establishes venue over the dispute, so the probate court in the county of registration will hear and resolve the dispute. Having the dispute tried in the county where the trustee is registered can be an advantage, especially if a disgruntled beneficiary or relative living elsewhere files a lawsuit that takes issue with the trust.

Charitable Trust Registration

The Michigan law provisions discussed above apply to non-charitable trusts generally, but it does not to charitable trusts. A different law, called The Supervision of Trustees for Charitable Purposes Act, requires that charitable trusts register with the Michigan Attorney General. The requirements apply to most organizations holding charitable assets. Charitable remainder trusts are included if they meet certain criteria.

There are exemptions for hospitals, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and religious organizations, as well as amateur theater, band, and orchestra organizations. In addition, corporations may qualify for a waiver of the financial accounting requirement if they meet certain financial criteria. Even if a waiver is granted, the Attorney General retains the right to request financial accounting for years to which the waiver does not apply.

Talk With BRMM About Registering Your Trust

Trusts are an essential and important tool in planning your estate. Our experienced attorneys at BRMM are here to help with all your estate planning and trust needs, including registering your trust in Michigan. Since the 1970s, individuals and families in southeastern Michigan have counted on us. In addition to serving residents of Michigan, BRMM now has the ability to serve our clients with property or interests in both Michigan and Florida. We also assist clients from out-of-state who have an interest in a Michigan estate.

Call us at (248) 494-4577 or complete our online form to set up your free initial consultation.

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