Probate courts are people’s courts. They deal directly with the everyday personal and financial matters of people who cannot handle their own affairs for one reason or another. Most people think that probate courts deal exclusively with wills and financial affairs of people who have died. However, Probate Courts also deal with guardianships of children, guardianships and conservatorships of adults, mental health treatment, trusts, as well as elder abuse and dependent adult restraining orders. Probate courts also follow up on those appointments and review the actions of the appointed person or agency according to state law.
The National College of Probate Judges (NCPJ), is a national organization exclusively dedicated to improving probate law and probate courts throughout the country. NCPJ recently announced the publication of newly revised National Probate Court Standards. The Revised National Probate Court Standards are intended to promote uniformity, consistency, and continued improvement in the operations of probate courts and have been adopted by the NCPJ and other national court and bar associations. Promising practices from probate courts around the country have been included.
This large-scale revision to the National Probate Court Standards updates the original standards which were first published in 1993. Since then, significant technological, legal, policy, procedural, and demographic developments have affected the way probate courts can and should operate.
Adding urgency to the need generated by these developments is the impact that the “Baby Boom” population bulge will have on the probate courts. Within the next decade, the number of Americans age 65 or older will increase by 50%, from nearly 40 million to about 60 million.