Probate Court

As of January 1, 2020, all minor guardianship case types (GM, LG) have been reassigned to the 17th Circuit Court, and all case filings are now accepted at the Circuit Court Clerk's office.


Informational Meetings for Guardians & Conservators

Meetings are scheduled via Zoom every two months, and attendees must register in advance to attend. To register, click here, select the meeting you would like to attend, and include your name and email address. Once you have registered, a confirmation email will be sent to you with instructions for connecting to the meeting.

Each meeting will begin with an overview of the responsibilities of guardians and conservators including paperwork which must be filed with the Probate Court. Specific court forms will be reviewed and the steps for properly completing and filing the paperwork explained. Following this discussion, individuals are welcome to ask questions related to their specific wards.

Note: The content covered will be primarily adult guardianships and adult conservatorships (GA, GL, and CA case types), but if you have questions regarding guardianships of developmentally disabled individuals (DD case type) feel free to attend.

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Adult conservatorship (CA) forms may be electronically filed through TurboCourt.
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Mission Statement

The mission of the Kent County Probate Court is to provide an accessible and person-centered venue to secure the peaceful, sound, and efficient resolution of matters, where every individual is treated with dignity and respect.


Honorable David M. Murkowski, Chief Probate Judge

(616) 632-5428

Judge David M. Murkowski was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Judge Murkowski graduated from Marquette University High School in 1975, where he was elected senior class president. In 1979, he graduated cum laude from Marquette University where he was awarded the University's Outstanding Student Service Award and the Polanki College Achievement Scholarship. In 1979, Judge Murkowski was also inducted into the National Jesuit Honor Society. He attended Western Michigan University's Thomas M. Cooley Law School and was an honor roll graduate in 1983.

Judge Murkowski served as law clerk to the Michigan House of Representatives Civil Rights Committee, and worked as a solo practitioner in Grand Rapids until 1993 when he joined the law firm of Dilley & Dilley. There, he specialized in criminal defense, juvenile neglect and delinquency, and probate law. He served as managing partner of Dilley, Dilley, Murkowski & Goller until 2006, when he was appointed to the Kent County Probate bench to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Janet A. Haynes.

In December 2007, the Michigan Supreme Court appointed Judge Murkowski to serve as the Chief Judge of the Kent County Probate Court, commencing January 1, 2008. Judge Murkowski served as President of the Michigan Probate Judges Association (MPJA) in 2017. He served 6 years as Council Member of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan and served as a member and judicial representative of the Michigan Trust Code Committee, the body tasked with the drafting and enactment of the 2010 Michigan Trust Code. Through Judicial Council, he also initiated the complete restructuring of the appellate process for probate appeals. Judge Murkowski has also served as a member of the Governor's Mental Health Task Force Subcommittee on Legislation, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Kent County Family and Children's Coordinating Council. Currently, Judge Murkowski serves as Chair of the Judicial Council of the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Michigan and as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. Judge Murkowski has lectured for the Michigan Judicial Institute (MJI), ICLE's Probate and Estate Planning Institute, the American Geriatric Society (AGS), the Michigan Probate Judges Association (MPJA), the Western Michigan Estate Planning Council, and the Grand Rapids Bar Association, and provides semi-annual Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for law enforcement agencies throughout Kent County.

Recently, Judge Murkowski was invited by the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) and the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) to assist in the development of jurisdiction-specific (Michigan) probate content for use with the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). Judge Murkowski is also a chapter author of Michigan Probate Litigation: A Guide to Contested Litigation, 2nd Ed., a contributor to the Michigan Probate Benchbook, and an associate editor of Inter-Com, a publication of the Michigan Probate Judges Association.

Judge Murkowski has received the Judicial Contributions in Law and Aging Award by Elder Law of Michigan, has been selected as a Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly, and was elected as a Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation.

Honorable Avery D. Rose, Probate Judge

(616) 632-5421

Judge Avery D. Rose took the bench on January 1, 2023. He was raised in Coldwater, Michigan, and earned his Bachelor's degree in International Relations from Michigan State University, where he had the opportunity to study international security and comparative systems of governance in Istanbul, Turkey and Brussels, Belgium. Judge Rose earned his Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School and obtained a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Wayne State University.

Following his graduation from law school Judge Rose served as a law clerk at the 48th Circuit Court, in Allegan County. In 2015 Judge Rose was named as the Probate Register at the Allegan County Probate Court, where he also served as an Attorney/Referee. During his tenure in Allegan County, Judge Rose also served as the President of the Allegan County Bar Association, participated in the Allegan County Community Corrections Advisory Board, served as board member for the Allegan County Legal Assistance Center and represented the 48th Circuit as a Representative on the Representative Assembly of the State Bar of Michigan.

In 2019 Judge Rose was appointed by the Chief Probate Judge David M. Murkowski to serve as the Probate Register for Kent County, where he oversaw the administration of the Probate Court and the Kent County Guardianship Program. Judge Rose has been invited to speak on probate-related issues at the Michigan Judicial Institute, the Michigan Probate Registers and Juvenile Registers Association annual conference, The Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and to several other community organizations.


The Probate Court is a Court of statutory jurisdiction, primarily concerned with the protection of incapacitated or mentally ill individuals and their assets, and the proper transfer of assets at death.

Protection of Incapacitated Individuals.The Probate Court is a Court of statutory jurisdiction, primarily concerned with the protection of incapacitated or mentally ill individuals and their assets, and the proper transfer of assets at death.

Hospitalization of Mentally Ill Individuals.The Probate Court hears petitions for hospitalization for mentally ill individuals alleged to be a significant danger to themselves or others. Hearings take place on a tight time frame: they are normally required to be held within seven days of involuntary hospitalization. The Court is also required to oversee and hold hearings for commitment of individuals from other counties hospitalized in Kent County, and other counties do the same when Kent County residents are hospitalized in other counties. In 2011, other counties oversaw 178 cases involving Kent residents hospitalized elsewhere, and conducted 142 hearings on those cases. In 2011, Kent County Probate Court oversaw 839 cases involving residents of other counties hospitalized here, and conducted 247 hearings on those cases, none of which is reflected in Kent's SCAO case load statistics.

Protection of Property of Incapacitated Individuals.Proceedings concerning the protection of the property of incapacitated individuals involve conservatorships for legally incapacitated adults, conservatorships for minors, and guardianships of the estate for developmentally disabled individuals. If a conservator or guardian of the estate is appointed, the Court must then monitor the continuing proceedings to ensure that the required annual accounts are filed and approved, showing that the assets are being held and used for the benefit of the ward. The Court also conducts hearings regarding disputes that arise concerning conservatorships and petitions to terminate or modify conservatorships.

Transfer of Assets.The Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over proceedings regarding the transfer of assets at death or transfers where property is held in trust. Transfers at death may involve probate of a Will (testate estates) or estates where there is no Will (intestate estates), the only difference being whether the Will or state statute governs distribution of the property. The Court may also be called upon to interpret Wills or Trusts in the event of uncertainty or conflict over the document's meaning. Proceedings in decedent's estates may be unsupervised or supervised by the Court, depending on the situation.

Other Matters.The Probate Court also hears a variety of other types of matters. These include Petitions for Protective Orders, which are typically one-time requests for the Court to allow or approve some action, such as approval of a settlement or a Trust. They also include various civil actions, where one party is suing another party. These cases are just like cases in circuit or district court, except usually a trust, estate, or fiduciary is one of the parties, so the proceedings have some relation to the regular business of the Probate Court. Finally, the Probate Court holds Wills for safekeeping and hears proceedings for change of name, drain appeals and secret marriages.

Cover page of 2022 Annual Report

Kent County Probate Court
2022 Annual Report

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