SIDNEY — The Shelby County Probate Court’s responsibilities include the probating of wills, trusts and estates, the guardianships of minors and incompetent adults, adoptions, will contests, name changes, marriage licenses, civil proceedings, disinterment, minor settlements, structured settlements, mental illness, wrongful death and related litigation.
“The Probate Court was very busy with a caseload generally consistent with the prior year,” said Judge Jeff Beigel. “Building upon operational changes made in the last few years, it was also able to do a better and more efficient job of meeting the demands of such an active docket. “
His report continues:
In 2019, 343 new cases were filed and the court issued 307 marriage licenses. At year end the Court maintained an active docket of 517 pending cases in process, with 616 other cases being completed and disposed of in 2019. Pending cases included 237 estates, 184 guardianships of incompetents, 29 guardianships of minors, six adoptions, four civil actions, 17 trust matters, one conservatorship and other miscellaneous filings.
The court deposited $48,540 of collected revenue into the General Fund, generally consistent with 2018 collections.
In 2019, the court also established two significant programs to enhance supervision and services in guardianship matters. The first program is the Court Angel Program consisting of trained volunteers to periodically visit guardians and wards to ensure the care of the ward. Although the overwhelming majority of guardianships in Shelby County are handled without complaint or concern, the program serves to address the minority of cases where a ward’s interest could be better served by court intervention. Throughout Ohio the issues of abuse and neglect of wards and the elderly are regularly subjects of valid concern. The program is designed to be a non-intrusive way for the court to keep abreast of those issues.
The second program involved laying the groundwork for a Guardianship Services Board to train and assign guardians for indigent individuals who are mentally incompetent, when necessary. There is currently a much greater need for guardians than there are available individuals or local attorneys to meet those needs. Based upon recently enacted legislation, the court is now able to establish a Guardianship Services Board to provide a much more reliable way to meet that need. This multi-year project is being undertaken in conjunction and cooperation with local county agencies that work directly with indigent individuals in need.
Probate clerks also completed an educational program sponsored by the Ohio Association of Probate Judges and the Supreme Court of Ohio.
In March, I gave a presentation regarding the court’s record-keeping to the Shelby County Genealogical Society.
In October the court hosted two free well-attended guardianship presentations for guardians of incompetent adults to facilitate their completion of the annual guardian education requirements.
In November the court promoted the recognition of National Adoption Awareness Month with a focus on local adoptions.
As a member of the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Probate Law & Procedure Committee, I regularly attended committee meetings to keep abreast of, and provide input on, proposed legislation, trends and issues that may affect our local court.
I also serves as judge of the Shelby County Juvenile Court. That annual progress report is published separately in this progress edition.