Judicial Responsibilities of the Probate Court

Adoptions and Contests to Adoptions, Involuntary Commitment of the Mentally Ill, Condemnation of Privately Owned Land for Public Use (Eminent Domain), Guardianship and Conservatorship Proceedings for Minor Children and Adults Who Are Mentally and/or Physically Incapacitated, the Administration of Decedents' Estates (whether or not the decedent had a last will and testament), and Trust Administration. Click on links to learn more about each judicial responsibility.

Adoption is the legal procedure through which a minor (19 years or younger) is recognized by law as becoming the son or daughter of the adopting adult(s), and as having all of the rights and duties of such relationship, including the right of inheritance.

A Conservator is a person appointed by the Court to handle the financial matters and property of a minor or adult person who is incapacitated. An incapacitated person is someone who is physically and/or mentally unable to care for himself or herself.

A Guardian is a person appointed by the Court to make decisions concerning a personís physical needs. An incapacitated person is someone who is physically and/or mentally unable to care for himself/herself.

A legitimation may be petitioned for by the natural, or biological, father of a child for the purpose of recognizing the child as his own. The natural, or biological, mother of the child must consent to the legitimation. Legitimation is not possible where there is a named father listed on the birth certificate or in cases where the birth certificate indicates that the mother refused to name the father.

Mental Health Commitments
Involuntary Commitment is a legal procedure by which a person is placed in the custody of the State Department of Mental Health for long-term treatment. This is done only if necessary, and after every effort is made to provide treatment for the person on a voluntary basis.

Name Changes
Instructions for adult and minor name change

Summary Distribution
The Alabama Small Estates Act was passed in 1979 and amended in 2009. This Act provides a method, through a court proceeding, to distribute personal property of a deceased person in a summary distribution manner to a surviving spouse, or appropriate distributes of the decedent, without full probate administration.

Trusts are generally complex legal documents, often with multi-generational implications. There are many different kinds of trusts, revocable and irrevocable.

Estate Administrations
A will is a document which discloses how a person wishes his or her property to be distributed after death. A will must meet certain legal requirements. The law requires that a person making a will must be 18 years of age or older, of sound mind and under no undue influence. There are times when a person does not make a will. Those estates are administered pursuant to the directives of the Code of Alabama.