Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Truth About Probate Judges


When asked what a probate judge does, many people might be surprised to hear that they render decisions and issue orders.  While probate judges also issue marriage and weapons carry licenses, administer oaths to public officials, fill vacancies in certain elected positions, and perform many other administrative duties, they also do so much more. 

Probate judges may determine the transfer and placement of patients who are unable to give informed consent, when there are no persons available to act on the patient’s behalf.  Probate judges can determine funeral arrangements for a person whose family is in disagreement over the issue.  Probate judges may be called upon to determine whether life-sustaining treatments should or should not be terminated for a person who cannot make an informed decision. 

A probate judge’s decision in a contested estate and guardianship trial or custody case can significantly impact family members, family factions, charitable entities, elderly entities, as well as millions of dollars.  A probate judge first decided the James Brown case; who his heirs were was first decided in probate court.  Probate judges effect the lives of citizens of our counties.  Probate judges are rightly public servants, whose service touches the lives of all county citizens. 

See William J. Self, Probate Judges Handle So Much More, Cherokee Tribune, Aug. 2, 2014.


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