Probate Court Jurisdiction

by Teo Spengler
Probate courts supervise administration of wills and trusts.

Probate courts supervise administration of wills and trusts.

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No one court does it all. Each court only has authority to handle cases that fall within its jurisdiction as determined by state or federal laws. State probate courts generally have jurisdiction to handle matters relating to the administration of wills and trusts, but some states authorize them to adjudicate other types of cases as well.

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Probating Wills

Probate courts are best known for their role in administering estates in a court-supervised process termed probate. An estate may end up in probate court when a person dies whether or not he left a will. The court works with an executor or personal representative of the deceased to see that estate assets are collected, debts are paid and remaining property distributed according to the terms of the will, or intestate laws, if there is no will.

Other Probate Court Functions

Probate courts generally handle all matters relating to estates and trusts, but state laws can expand their jurisdiction to include diverse other topics. In some states, probate judges determine competency issues, appoint guardians and conservators, terminate parental responsibility, hear paternity claims, grant name changes and even assist persons with passport issues.