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Overview of the Michigan Court System

The courts in Michigan's judicial system, like those in many other states, may be divided into three tiers: the trial courts, the Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. The bottom-most tier, the trial courts, can be further divided into the probate, circuit and district courts.

The probate courts deal with estate succession and probate issues while the district courts oversee minor civil cases, traffic and other petty infractions, ordinance violations and preliminary criminal hearings. Some municipal courts handle these affairs in and around the larger cities, and the district courts handle them outside the cities.

The circuit courts handle misdemeanor and felony criminal cases as well as family issues, major civil trials and juvenile cases. These courts also take on appeals from the municipal and district courts.

Just above the circuit courts is the Court of Appeals, which handles appeals from the lower courts. Just above that is the Supreme Court, which is the highest tier and the "court of last resort" in the state of Michigan. Appeals of decisions made by the Court of Appeals are brought to the Supreme Court, which also handles bar admissions, court procedure oversight and other administrative tasks.

Michigan Attorneys and Lawyers

When faced with a legal issue, contacting an experienced attorney is always the best bet. At LawInfo you can search for a skilled, Lead Counsel Rated Michigan attorney by location and by practice area. We have Michigan attorneys who dedicate their practice to specific areas of the law, so you will not only find an attorney, but an attorney who is knowledgeable to help you with your particular legal issue.

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Michigan Legal Forms

LawInfo offers free Michigan legal forms and documents to help resolve many of your issues on your own. Whether you need a power of attorney or you want to complete your will, we have you covered. You can click on our most popular forms located in the right column of this page. A user account is required to use the service, but it’s completely free.

Homeowners who rent or plan to rent part or all of a piece of real estate property should consider the risks inherent in the transaction. The landlord/tenant relationship can be a good one as long as the proper legal safeguards are put in place. Michigan Residential Lease Agreement, available for free on LawInfo, can provide landlords with a way to set a contractual, legally-binding agreement in writing with tenants. Even if something bad or unexpected happens, the contract can protect you from major liabilities.

You can avoid putting your loved ones through the hassle of dealing with probate courts after you pass on by filing a Last Will and Testament. Last will documents are available from LawInfo and allow you to determine exactly who gets what from your possessions and heirlooms. If you die "intestate," or without a will, the courts will determine who gets what, which may not be according to your wishes. You can achieve peace of mind by filing a Last Will and Testament.

If you become medically incapacitated but remain alive, you may need to designate someone to have authority over your health care, finances and legal matters. This is known as a Power of Attorney and may be filed officially with forms available for free on LawInfo. Like a last will, establishing a Power of Attorney is the responsible thing to do as it will reduce the stress on your family members if they know who is in charge of your care.

Starting a Michigan Business

Being a business owner and entrepreneur is a dream of many Americans. If you want to start your own company in Michigan, you should keep in mind the potential risks and prepare for them as best as possible. The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center offers convenient solutions for beginning businesspeople to learn how to develop their business plans, get funding and begin identifying their market. Once you've accomplished a conservative, tangible plan, you can begin with the necessary paperwork.

Figuring out the proper business structure is crucially important for your business. Every business structure varies, and you will need to choose the regulation, tax and liability levels that work for you. For instance, sole proprietorships don't have a lot of regulations and require fewer taxes, but you are on the hook for all of your company's losses. If you decide to start a corporation, you may be on the hook for more taxes and regulatory oversight, but your personal finances will be more protected.

Michigan Business Statistics

Small businesses employ 51.7 percent of the Michigan private-sector work force. The state unemployment rate hovered just under 9 percent through 2013, which was a full two points higher than the national rate. This makes starting a business in Michigan all the more important. Michigan is home to more than 851,000 small businesses that account for 98.3 percent of the state's employers.

Michigan's large business presence is also significant. There are 2,985 large employers in the state, including nearly 20 major Fortune 500 companies, such as General Motors (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and Dow Chemical (DOW).