JURISDICTION OF THE COURT
Ohio Revised Code places over two hundred separate duties upon the probate
court. Those duties range from issuing marriage licenses to overseeing
testamentary trusts valued in millions of dollars. The following is a brief
outline and description of some of the duties of the court.
ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATES
administration involves the court overseeing transfer of a decedentís
probatable assets to his beneficiaries and heirs. The court accomplishes this
task by appointing a fiduciary, either an executor or an administrator, who
collects the assets, pays any outstanding debts and then distributes the
remaining assets to those who are entitled to receive them. The court
supervises the actions of the fiduciary by requiring a bond, when necessary,
and the filing of various documents, including an inventory and an accounting.
Probate Court is responsible for testamentary wills as follows:
Safekeeping Ė Prior to the death of the testator (maker), for a
small filing fee, a will may be deposited with the probate court for
Probate Ė On the death of the testator, a will is admitted to
probate by the court, Once admitted the will may control estate administration
and the distribution of the decedentís assets. If no will is admitted to
probate, the Ohio Revised Code will control the administration and distribution
of the decedentís assets.
Contest Ė If a will is contested, a
trial is conducted by the court to determine the validity of the will. If
requested, a trial by jury is mandatory.
court may appoint, after hearing and investigation, a guardian for a minor or
for an adult who is found to be incompetent to take proper care of himself or
his property. A guardian, with court supervision, is responsible for making
personal and/or financial decisions for the ward. Court supervision is
accomplished, in part, through the filing of reports and accountings by the
guardian. Both a minor and an adult ward have a number of rights and
protections to insure against an unnecessary or ineffective guardianship,
including, for the adult ward, the right to be represented by an attorney.
court grants a conservatorship when the conservatee, the person who is the
subject of the conservatorship, consents. A conservatee must be mentally
competent, but physically infirm. The laws and procedures of guardianship, may
apply to conservatorships.
MENTAL ILLNESS AND MENTAL
involuntary commitments of the mentally ill and retarded to state hospitals are
the responsibility of the probate court. The court is required to hold
evidentiary hearings to determine the appropriateness of commitment and the
length and place of treatment. Since the involuntary††† commitment involves the
loss of liberty, the court insures protection of an individualís rights by
providing legal representations at each step of the commitment process.
adoptions must be approved by the probate court before they become final.
Person or persons wishing to adopt are required to submit to an investigation
of their living environment by professionally-trained personnel to insure their
suitability as parents.
REGISTRATION, AND CORRECTION
a birth has not been recorded, or if a birth certificate has been lost,
destroyed, or improperly or inaccurately recorded, the probate court has the
power, upon application, to require recording, or correction of the
on births before 1908 is available from the probate court. For individuals born
prior to 1908, a certified certificate of birth may be obtained from the
CHANGES OF NAME
for legal change of name are filed in the probate court. After publishing
notice and hearing, the court, if reasonable and proper cause exists, may grant
a name change.
probate court has exclusive jurisdiction to issue marriage licenses. After
review of the application, a deputy clerk will issue a license for marriage.
Over 100,000 marriage licenses are issued annually by Ohio Probate Courts.
LEGITIMATIONS Not in
Probate Court as of 1-1-1998
TESTAMENTARY AND INTER
probate court is responsible for insuring that the terms of testamentary trusts
(those created by a will) are complied with. This is accomplished, in part,
through periodic accountings to the court. Questions involving interpretation
and enforcement of both testamentary and inter vivos trusts (those created
during a personís lifetime) may be submitted to court.
APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS AND
is the responsibility of the probate judge to appoint members of various
independent boards and commissions. As an example, all of the members of County
Metropolitan Parks Boards and Facilities Review Boards are appointed by the
probate judge. In addition, when a vacancy occurs on a school board or a board
of township trustees, the probate judge, after a period of time prescribed by
statute, must appoint an individual to fill the vacancy.
LEGAL PRACTICE IN THE
practice in the probate court is restricted by law to attorneys who are
licensed by the Supreme Court of Ohio, If an individual wishes to handle his or
her own case, he or she may do so; however, they may not represent others. Due
to the complexity of the law and desire to avoid costly errors, many
individuals who have filings before the court are represented by an attorney.
Deputy clerks are prevented by law from practicing law and, therefore, are limited
in the amount of advice they are permitted to give.