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Revised Probate Court Standards Now Available

On November 16, 2012, the National College of Probate Judges (NCPJ) unanimously adopted a set of revised National Probate Court Standards made possible through a Technical Assistance grant provided by SJI(SJI-10-T-180) and matching support from the Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging, the ACTEC Foundation, and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).

This volume is the product of a two-year effort by a Task Force of NCPJ leaders and representatives of the National Association for Court Management (NACM) and the American Bar Association (ABA) Section on Real Estate, Probate, Trust and Estates assisted by staff from the NCSC.

Last month, the final document including the revisions to the standards, was endorsed by the Conference of Chief Justices. The revision effort was undertaken by NCPJ in recognition that there have been significant technological, legal, policy, procedural, and demographic developments that affect the way probate courts can and should operate since the early 1990s, when the original National Probate Court Standards were developed (also with SJI support). Adding urgency to the need generated by these developments is the impact that the “Baby Boom” population bulge will have on the probate courts.

The revised Standards are intended to be used by individual probate courts and by state court systems as:

  • A source of ideas for improving the quality of justice, the effectiveness of operations, and efficient use of resources;
  • A basis for requests for needed budgetary support;
  • A tool for measuring progress; and
  • A template for state standards.

In addition to setting forth the principles for probate court performance, the revised standards address administrative policies, procedures, and practices for probate courts; decedent’s estates; and guardianships and conservatorships for both adults and minors.

Although the Standards focus on the probate court, they are also generally applicable to any judge responsible for a probate matter. An electronic copy of the revised standards may be obtained online through the NCPJ and also on the NCSC’s probate court resource page. To obtain a printed copy, contact Shelley Rockwell at