Mason County Probate Court
Hon. Jeffey C. Nellis, Chief Judge
304 East Ludington Avenue
Ludington, MI 49431
In 1818, nearly twenty years before Michigan was admitted as the 26th state to the Union, a court of probate was established in each county organized at the time, and judges served by governor appointment until 1838, when state law made the office elective. There are 83 counties in Michigan, and each has its own probate court, with the exception of ten northern counties that have joined together to form five probate court districts; so there are 78 probate courts in Michigan, each with one or more judges, depending on population and caseload. The Mason County Probate Court is served by one judge, who also has concurrent jurisdiction in the family division of the circuit court.
The probate court has jurisdiction over guardianships and conservatorships (legal relationships established to make personal or financial decisions for minor or adult incapacitated, protected, or developmentally disabled individuals); the commitment, as needed if a danger to self or others, and the course of treatment of mentally ill individuals; and the admission of wills, administration of estates, and supervision of trusts.
When the Constitution of the State of Michigan of 1963 passed, it provided that a person must be a lawyer in order to become a judge; however, several Michigan probate judges at that time were not lawyers, including Mason County Probate Judge Francis K. Bourisseau, and those judges were authorized to remain in office until they retired. Judge Bourisseau was one of the last nonattorney judges in Michigan, and at this time is the fourth longest-serving probate judge in the state, having served Mason County for 38 years, from 1957 until the time of his retirement in 1995.
Updated December 3, 2018