Probate & Guardianship
Probate is necessary whenever a deceased person leaves titled assets in their name alone. A party then files a petition for probate which allows distribution of the decedent’s assets. The probate department maintains the files on probate estates, wills, trusts and guardianships for both minors and incapacitated persons. They monitor, file, and store all pending case files and all wills that have been deposited.
Disposition of Personal Property without Administration may be filed without the assistance of an attorney. These are filed when the amount of the estate does not exceed the amount of the preferred funeral expenses and the expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness.
Forms can be located on the Forms page
The Clerk’s Office accepts wills on deposit after a person’s death. A receipt of Last Will and Testament is prepared by the probate clerk and a copy is provided to the depositor. There is no fee for this service.
Guardianship is a legal procedure to protect the personal and/or property rights of an incapacitated person by having a Court appointed guardian. There are various types of guardianships. An attorney can assist you in determining what type of guardianship, if any, is necessary.
Guardianship cases are generally established when:
- Someone is declared incapacitated. An adult who isn’t capable of taking care of their own financial affairs and/or their own personal wellbeing.
- A guardianship is required for a minor who is the recipient of a court settlement over $15,000.
- A minor has inherited money more than $15,000 or real property.
- There is a need by a parent to have a guardian appointed because the parent is not going to be available for a period of time, such as a parent going into the military.
A competent adult may choose a person to be their guardian or the guardian of their minor child(ren), before they have a need for that guardian, by completing a Declaration of Pre-Need Guardian. The written declaration must reasonably identify the declarant and preneed guardian and be signed by both in the presence of at least two attesting witnesses, present at the same time. The declarant may file the declaration with the Clerk of Court. There is no fee charged for this service.