The Many Duties of a Probate Court

Probate courts are bustling with activity, because so many cases take place in these court rooms. While many people associate probate with the estate distribution of a decedent, this is not the only role these courts fulfill. These courts normally wear many hats and take care of a variety of legislative concerns. This makes it incredibly important that the probate judge in your district is capable of handling a variety of different jobs.

According to the Ohio Association of Probate Judges, the word probate comes from a Latin word called "probatio." This word literally means "to prove" and can be applied to a variety of court cases. In Ohio, the probate court is responsible for ovr two hundred separate duties. While the number of decisions in the probate court is relative to the distribution of duties in each state, most states apply a similar number of jobs to this one institution. Using Ohio as an example, here are some of the many jobs that the probate court may take care of in your state.

In every state, the probate court is responsible for administrating the estate of a decedent to the beneficiaries and heirs. This process can become complicated when the decedent has not left a will behind. In order to complete the estate administration, the court may appoint a fiduciary who can collect assets and pay any outstanding debts. The court supervises the fiduciary by requiring a bond and filing various documents. Normally the fiduciary will need to present the probate court with a list of all inventories and a detailed sheet of the accounting.

Probate courts are also responsible for testamentary wills. The court can often keep a will safe for a small fee, so that when the filer passes on, these important documents will be easy to locate. The court will also review the will as a part of the probate process. When a will is not discovered, the court will make sure that the assets are legally divided. If a will is contested, then the court will conduct a trial to determine the document's validity. They may invoke a trial by jury for this case. Any type of conflict over dividing an estate among heirs reverts back to a probate court.

In some states, probate courts are in charge of objections to consent for medical treatment. This is because many men and women will file something about future medical treatment in their wills in case they become incapacitated. When there are objections to the authority that is responsible to consent to medical treatment, and there is not an attorney or an advanced directive, then the objections or consents need to be filed for the probate court. Probate courts are also important when it comes to deciding guardianship to a minor. These minors may be the orphan of a decedent, or may have parents that are not able to take proper care of them. Normally the probate court will locate a responsible guardian and make sure that the minor is well cared for.

In many jurisdictions, the probate court also deals with conservatorships, adoptions, and name changes. Probate courts can also take responsibility to issue a marriage license, or to legitimize a child who was not born in wedlock. Probate courts sometimes issue birth certificates, registrations, and corrections to birth certificates. If you lose a birth certificate, then many times you will need to appeal to a probate court. Many times these courts will also appropriate land, especially when the property is being taken by the state, city, or county.