The probate judge is an elected official whose responsibility is to oversee and manage the probate of the estate of deceased persons within his or her jurisdiction. Probate is a court proceeding by which a will is proved valid or invalid, and also includes the process of the administration of estates and distribution to those designated to receive the assets, such as beneficiaries in the will, or heirs at law as determined by the judge.
However, the probate judge also handles many other important matters, such as establishing guardianships for adults and minors with incapacities who are unable to care for themselves or manage their assets, and supervises the administration of current guardianships on a regular basis. The probate court also hears matters involving trusts, and hears all cases involving civil mental health commitments. The probate judge hears lawsuits involving probate and guardianship estates, and also hears cases by or against the fiduciaries managing them.
Most probate, guardianship, and trust proceedings are uncontested, but if they are contested, the probate judge presides over them in a fair and impartial manner.
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