PROBATE 21: Probate court believed it would not have jurisdiction once their mother left the state.

In this case, the subject guardianship proceedings were initially commenced in the Macomb Probate Court.

The probate court appointed petitioner (court appointed) as Mother’s guardian. After petitioner learned that Mother desired to make the transition to North Carolina to live closer to relatives, petitioner asked the court to implement a transitional plan to ensure Mother’s physical and emotional well-being.

Following a hearing on the motion, petitioner, respondent (the daughter), and Mother’s court-appointed attorney developed a transitional plan to be supported by a court order to ensure compliance. The petition indicated that the probate court would retain jurisdiction by virtue of the continued guardianship proceedings. Furthermore, the proposed order included a clause indicating that at the end of the 180-day transition period, a hearing will be held to determine if the Guardianship over Mother should continue in Michigan or be terminated upon the commencement of a new Guardianship proceeding in North Carolina.

The trial court, however, indicated its belief that it would not have jurisdiction once Mother left the state.  Despite counsel’s argument regarding the utility of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the probate court disagreed.

Petitioner states that a final guardianship report has not been filed and that the probate court was not required to terminate the guardianship proceedings in order to enter the stipulated order. Furthermore, petitioner did not seek to resign. These assertions are undisputed, and indeed would not change as a result of the probate court’s entry of the stipulated order. The transfer of jurisdiction is contingent upon the occurrence of a final accounting and resignation by the guardian in the court in which the letters of authority were issued.

North Carolina’s courts would recognize the jurisdiction of the Michigan probate court and would require an order of transfer before allowing a transfer of guardianship. Petitioner also would maintain the ability to raise an objection to the transfer if the transfer was not in Mother’s best interests.

Ultimately, if a permanent relocation to North Carolina were in Mother’s best interests after the 180-day transition period, the probate court would remain in a position to make the determination as to whether it should transfer the guardianship proceedings to the jurisdiction of a North Carolina court.

In sum, the probate court would remain in a position to safeguard Mother and her interests until it was convinced that a transfer was in Mother’s best interests. Therefore, the probate court clearly erred by concluding that it would no longer have jurisdiction over Mother following entry of the proposed stipulated order.

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