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Jun 2009
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June 19, 2009

Governor Signs New Michigan Trust Code

The new Michigan Trust Code, signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm on June 18, is the culmination of a five-year drafting process led by the Michigan Trust Code Committee of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan in consultation with the Michigan Bankers Association Trust Counsel Committee and the Michigan Probate Judges Association.

Mark Harder, a partner in Warner's Holland office, serves as chair of the state bar committee and reporter for the Michigan Trust Code, and was instrumental in drafting the MTC.

"The Michigan Trust Code represents a significant advance in the law of trusts and ensures that Michigan's citizens have a single-source, comprehensive, modern body of law to govern an area of growing importance to Michigan's citizens, its legal and financial communities and its courts," he said.

He said the committee used the Uniform Trust Code as its starting point but specifically tailored the language to meet Michigan’s needs in this area and to preserve longstanding existing law.

The new state law provides a number of benefits, according to Harder, foremost of which is filling the numerous "gaps" that existed in the law. The MTC answers many of the questions regarding the formation, administration, modification and termination of trusts and provides certainty to citizens to aid them in their planning and to the courts in resolving questions and disputes.

Harder said the MTC also modernizes the law of trusts in several important respects by providing rules of trust law that cannot be overridden by the terms of the trust, providing a comprehensive set of rules for trust modification and termination, dealing specifically with revocable trusts used as substitutes for wills, and defining the nature and status of trust protectors.

The new law also means that:

  • Because the MTC is based on the Uniform Trust Code, Michigan's courts can more easily look to the laws of other states for guidance in resolving cases.

  • Michigan can neutralize the attraction of such states as Ohio, Florida and Arizona as alternative places to domicile trusts because of the availability of their law to govern trusts, and thereby retain in Michigan the management and administration of these trusts and the jobs this work brings.

The law goes into effect on April 1, 2010. However, the MTC will have an immediate impact as individuals prepare and update trusts in 2009 that can be expected to exist after the effective date, Harder said.

For more information about the Michigan Trust Code, contact Mark Harder at 616.396.3225 or mharder@wnj.com, or any member of Warner Norcross & Judd's Trusts and Estates Practice Group

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