- Ohio probate courts are responsible for the approval of adoptions.baby image by andrey polichenko from Fotolia.com
Probate courts in Ohio, charged with enforcing probate law in the state, are responsible for duties such as estate administration, marriage licenses, adoption and guardian appointment. While the probate courts are well known for administering the estates of people who die with or without a will, they also spend a substantial amount of time protecting persons in need of care.
Administrating an Estate
- After a person who maintained a will dies, the will is admitted to probate. This procedure involves filing the will with the probate court to determine the document's validity. If the court finds the will is questionable, it can order witnesses to testify regarding the will's validity. If the Ohio probate court finds a will is valid, the court will appoint an executor to ensure the deceased person's estate is lawfully settled. If there is no will, an administrator will be appointed. Administrators have the same responsibilities and authority as an executor, and the court normally prefers to choose an administrator who is a relative of the deceased. The executor or administrator will locate all property and hire a professional appraiser to inventory the property and present an appraisal of it. The executor or administrator have additional duties that include settlement of tax debt and proper distribution of the estate.
Commitment of the Mentally Ill or Retarded
- In Ohio probate law, if a mentally ill or retarded person has become a danger to herself or others and won't, or can't, obtain treatment, a probate court may move to commit her to an institution or hospital for that treatment. The probate court will thoroughly assess her mental fitness before issuing an order of commitment.
- A guardian is a person appointed by the probate court who is legally responsible for another individual that can't be legally responsible for himself due to, for example, age or disability. Ohio probate courts can legally appoint a limited guardian and conservators. Limited guardians make decisions and perform actions in one area where an individual is incompetent. Conservators are appointed for an individual who is physically incapable of performing certain necessary duties like writing checks and handling mail. Conservators can be appointed on a temporary or permanent basis. An interim or emergency guardian is appointed for a short period in situations such as when a probate court is searching for a permanent guardian or if a person is suffering from a temporary disability. Ohio law demands that a probate court appoint the least restrictive guardianship in all cases.
- Adoption, a process through which an adult, or adults, become legally responsible for the rearing of another adult's child, is also managed through probate court. The court will decide if the adoption should be approved, if it's in the best interest of the child, or if the adoption request should be denied. Adoptions take various forms including step-parents adopting step-children and the adoption of orphans and abandoned children.
- Ohio probate courts oversee the issuance of marriage licenses in the state. The court may deny a license for reasons such as one of the persons seeking marriage is underage, one of the persons has communicable syphilis or one of the applicants for a marriage license is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance at the time of application.