Estate Management, Property Management, Mortgages

TRUST, WILLS & PROBATE

Estate Management, Property Management, Mortgages

Probate courts have jurisdiction to hear cases regarding the estates of decedents, incompetents and minors, guardianships, and short-term probate commitments with respect to persons alleged to be mentally ill.

 

With respect to estates, probate courts oversee the probate of estate documents, including the administration of wills and trusts.  This oversight includes making decisions in contested matters where the administration of estates is at issue between interested parties.  Probate courts also oversee the administration of intestate estates; that is, where the decedent died with assets but failed to make a valid will. 

 

With respect to guardianships, the probate court determines whether a guardianship is reasonable and necessary to protect the interests of a person alleged to be incompetent.  Guardianships may be appropriate for persons who become incompetent with age or due to some form of progressively debilitating disease, or perhaps because of mental illness or permanent developmental disability.  Guardianships provide a form of permanent "power of attorney" whereby the guardian is appointed to manage the person and the estate for the benefit of the person adjudicated incompetent.  Phases of litigation, if required, are often bifurcated to determine, first, if the guardianship is necessary and then, second, who would best serve as guardian of the ward.

 

In matters of civil commitment, it is alleged that a person presents an imminent risk of substantial harm to themselves or others by virtue of mental illness.   Civil commitment proceedings often follow acute incidents where family or law enforcement have adverse encounters with the subject of the civil commitment proceedings.  These cases require the testimony of qualified mental health professionals who give opinions with respect to the existence of mental illness in the respondent, the appropriate clinical treatment, and the least restrictive setting for the respondent so that he or she may recover with minimal intervention.  Trials require evidence of a clear and convincing nature, given that civil commitments present the threat the liberty of the subject of the petition.