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How do I deal with a probate court problem?

Probate court is a highly democratic way to access the Connecticut justice system. Whether citizens are planning their estate or seeking help in caring for a disabled relative, courts can help people find the solution.

It is rare, although possible, that a probate court makes a mistake. Fortunately, the process for redress is almost as easy as accessing the court itself. One can complain about a court's or judge's behavior to the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct.

What is the Council and how do they operate?

The Council enforces the Code of Probate Judicial Conduct, made Connecticut law in 1975 and amended occasionally. The Code covers ethical behavior for magistrates, referees, mediators and others involved in the probate court's operation.

What can the Council do about a probate court problem?

The Council can investigate any suspected violation of laws or professional ethics by a probate judge or officer of the court. This also includes failure to perform an office, act with prejudice or fail to file appropriate documents.

Can the Council overturn a probate court's decision?

That is not the purpose of the Council as much as ensuring that decisions were made correctly. Since the Council is not a court, it cannot overrule a judge's order. It can merely investigate professional conduct by a person or court.

What is the appeal process for a probate court decision?

In general, appeals must be filed within 30 days of a probate court's order. There are exceptions for specific circumstances. The probate court recommends that people considering appeals should consult an attorney to guide them through the specifics of the appeals process.

Source: Connecticut Probate Courts, "Probate Court User Guide," accessed April 12, 2018

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