Probate Courts are another facet of the Connecticut court system. These courts have exclusive jurisdiction over matters of estate, the property of deceased persons, conservatorships, estates belonging to minors, testamentary trusts, wills, adoptions, guardianships and the commitment of a mentally ill person to care facilities. One judge presides over each of the Probate Courts. Judges are elected by the general public to a four-year term and must be attorneys before being elected to fill a judge’s seat. They are paid according to a statutory formula.
The Probate Court system is split into 54 Probate Court districts and six Regional Children’s Probate Courts. The Probate Courts operate out of municipal buildings such as town halls.
Because Probate Courts serve children, seniors and persons with mental illness or intellectual disabilities, their mission is: “given the sensitive nature of the matters that we handle, is to provide an approachable forum for families to resolve their cases in a fair, prompt and economical manner.”
The Connecticut Judicial Branch website has an area specific to Probate Courts. It includes user guides along with a list of court fees. They also provide all types of forms to use when filing court documents along with customer support information including court clerk contact numbers. Court clerks can offer general information about how the Probate Court system works. There is also a directory of courts to help users find the Probate Court in their area. The case-lookup feature offers the public a way to review court records and documents and find out additional information.
The Probate Court also offers a mediation program as an alternative to a court case. The fee is $350 per day, and most matters can be resolved in one day. Mediation is entirely voluntary and works only if all parties can communicate effectively and come to an agreement.
The judges from all 54 districts belong to an association called The Probate Assembly. It began in 1888. This association meets four times a year to collaborate on ways to improve the Probate Court process and system.