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Probate Court, not Circut Court, has jurisdiction over administration and distribution of trust

The court held that the circuit court did not err by granting the defendant-trustee's motion to transfer the case to the probate court. As trustee of his mother's trust, defendant executed a promissory note with the plaintiff, his brother, which stated that the money given to plaintiff was a loan from the trust, and that repayment was not expected until the date of the distribution of the funds from the trust. When their mother died, plaintiff inquired about his expected inheritance and was "informed that he was not to receive any such distribution, presumably because of the outstanding loan." He then filed suit claiming that defendant "violated his trustee and fiduciary duties and responsibilities in favor of his own self-interest, by his theft of" plaintiff's trust funds. He sought the formation of a constructive trust, the appointment of a new trustee, and that his son be named beneficiary of the new trust. The circuit court granted defendant's motion to have the action transferred to the probate court. On appeal, the court rejected plaintiff's argument that the probate court did not have jurisdiction over the claims. It noted that "all of the claims in plaintiff's complaint relate to the administration and distribution of a trust." Further, "all of the relief requested by plaintiff relates to the administration and distribution of the trust." As such, "[b]ecause all of the claims in plaintiff's complaint relate to the administration and distribution of his mother's trust . . . the probate court has exclusive jurisdiction over the action pursuant to MCL 700.1302(b), and the circuit court properly dismissed plaintiff's complaint and transferred the case to the probate court." Affirmed.


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