PROBATE COURT FUNCTIONS
AND RELATED STATUTES
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- The Ohio Association of Probate Court Judges has issued a helpful statement on the history of probate courts and the types of cases that they handle:
Prepared by the Ohio Association of Probate Judges
- History of the Probate Court
The term "probate" comes from the Latin word probatio, meaning "to prove", wherein matters in early English religious courts were proven before an ecclesiastical judge. Early American probate courts may be traced back to English Courts of Chancery and ecclesiastical, or religious, courts, which had jurisdiction over the probate of wills, administration of estates, and guardianships.
The first probate court in the United States was established in Massachusetts in 1784. Similar courts were subsequently established in other states under the name of surrogate, orphan courts, or courts of the ordinary. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provided for the first probate judge and court in the Ohio Territory. Under the first Ohio Constitution written in 1802, the court of common pleas had exclusive jurisdiction of probate matters. The Constitution of 1851 removed probate matters from the jurisdiction of common pleas courts and created in each county a separate probate court. Subsequent amendments to the Constitution in 1912, 1951, 1968, and 1973, and changes in the codified law in 1932 and 1976, have made the probate court what it is today: a special division of the court of common pleas. Each of Ohio’s 88 counties has a probate division of its court of common pleas.
The Ohio Revised Code places over two hundred separate duties upon the Probate Court. These duties include the administration of decedent’s estates, consent for medical treatment, the appointment of guardians for minors and incapacitated adults and the supervision of their property, civil involuntary commitments of the mentally ill, adoptions, birth record connections and registrations, changes of name, issuance of marriage licenses, supervision of testamentary trusts (those created by will) and interpretation and enforcement of intervivos trusts (those created during a person’s lifetime), land appropriations, and will constructions.
- Although the Ohio Revised Code specifies over 200 duties belonging to the probate courts, the most common areas of authority are:
- Intestate (Without a Will) - Ohio Revised Code § 2105.06 is the Statute of Descent and Distribution, which specifies who will inherit when there is no will.
- Basic Procedures for Administration of Estates (Testate or Intestate)
- Appointment of Executor or Administrator: Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2113
- Inventory: Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2115
- Claims Against the Estate: Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2117
- Release from Administration: Ohio Revised Code § 2113.03
- Appointment of Guardian, Ohio Revised Code § 2111.02
- Guardian of Minor, Ohio Revised Code § 2111.12
PROBATE COURT HOME PAGES
OHIO STATE BAR ASSOCIATION - Online Books & Pamphlets
CLEVELAND LAW LIBRARY FAQs
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May 21, 1999 -