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Vermont Probate Division

Frequently Asked Questions


Orleans Superior Court

Adoptions
expand  Can my new spouse/partner adopt my child if I cannot either locate or gain the consent of their other biological parent?
expand  How long does the adoption process take?
Every case is different so there is no single answer. Under Vermont law, the child must reside with you for six months before the adoption can be finalized. So if you are diligent in the filing of the petition to adopt and all other required paperwork and duties, it is foreseeable that it could be only six months between placement and adoption in non-relative adoptions. In the case of stepparent/partner adoptions or near-relative adoptions where the child has already been in the home, the process may be faster. The time frame will depend on timely filing of required paperwork.
 
   
 
expand  I am a foster parent and want to adopt my foster child – how does this affect the adoption process and timeline?
expand  I plan to adopt a child from a foreign country – does this change how I go about the adoption process?
This does not impact the part of the adoption process that takes place in the Probate Court. There may be significant changes in the earlier stages of the adoption on which the child placement agency or attorney that you are working with can advise you.
 
 
expand  If I have a criminal record will I be unable to adopt?
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Adult and Minor Guardianships
expand   Are there any alternative to guardianship?
expand   Can a guardianship be modified or terminated?
The ward or any person interested in the welfare of the ward may, at any time, file a motion for termination or modification of the guardianship. Annually, each ward under guardianship and his or her lawyer receives notice from the Court advising the ward of the right to file a motion for termination or modification of the guardianship. When such a motion is received in the Probate Court that approved the guardianship, notifications are sent to all interested persons, a hearing is held and based on the information presented, and the Probate Judge will determine whether changes are appropriate.
 
   
 
expand   Does a guardian have to provide financial reporting to the Courts?
expand   Does a guardian need to be bonded?
It is usual in Vermont for guardians to be bonded. This means that before the Probate Court appoints the guardian, he or she must file a bond, using theGuardian’s Bond (Form 79). The bond stands as an assurance that the guardian will perform the duties according to law. Although being bonded does not require the actual deposit of funds, it may be necessary to have an insurance company act as guarantor for the guardian’s obligations. This service can be arranged through local insurance companies at a reasonable fee. The necessity of a bond often depends upon the size and nature of the assets in the guardianship.
 
   
 
expand   How might my relative grant a Power of Attorney?
expand   I am the guardian for a minor’s property - how do I become bonded?
The Court will advise you what of bond is required. Sometimes the Court waives a surety. In this case, you simply sign the bond and return it. If a personal surety is required, often you need a financially responsible person to join with you in the obligation of the bond. If you violate your duties and cause a loss, both you and the surety are potentially liable on the bond. If a commercial surety is required, then you should speak with insurance companies to locate an insurer who writes fiduciary bonds. There will be a bonding fee for this sort of surety depending upon the amount of the bond.
 
   
 
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Changing a Name
expand  I want to go back to using my maiden name. Do I need to do anything?
expand  How much will it cost to change my name?
Name changes are relatively inexpensive and simple. The filing fee is $131.25.
expand  What is the Vermont Statute for changing a name?
expand  What requires an official name change?
Common everyday usage does not require a legal change of name. If you decide that you want to start calling yourself a different name, you are free to do so, as long as it is not for an illegal purpose. A legal name change is required when you want to start doing legally binding business under your new name or use the new name on official documentation, such as a passport.
 
   
 

Emancipations
expand  Are you required to give the names and address of parents of custodians if known?
expand  Does emancipation mean the minor can do all the things adults can do?
No. Any legal requirement that has and age specific restrictions (drinking age, voting age, etc.) are still effective to limit the actions of the emancipated minor. On the other hand, the minor may make contracts (rental leases, etc.) as any adult.
 
   
 
expand  How does a child become emancipated?
expand  How long do you need to be a Resident of Vermont in order to petition for Emancipation?
To petition for Emancipation the minor must be a resident of the State of Vermont for a period of at least three (3) months.
   
 
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Estates and Wills
expand  As Executor or Administrator what are my duties?
expand  Do I need a lawyer to open an estate?
While it is advisable and cost-effective to have a lawyer in certain estates, it is not required that you have a lawyer to open an estate. Any interested person may file a petition with the Probate Court to open the estate. However, if you are unsure of your duties or your rights, it is best to obtain legal counsel to avoid mistakes during the probate process or to assure that your rights are protected.
 
   
 
expand  How do I go about objecting to a will?
expand  How do I make a claim against an estate?
A claim against an estate must be filed with the Probate Court in which the estate is pending and with the Executor or Administrator. There may be a time limitation, after which your claim will not be honored, so it is important to file your claim as soon as possible to avoid being barred by a time limit. You may seek a written negotiated settlement of the claim with the Executor or Administrator. There are special rules concerning evidence of such claims, so you should prepare documentation of the claim. Probate Court Form 34 may be used to make your claim.
 
   
 
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Testamentary Trusts
expand  I feel that the trustee is mishandling the trust – what can I do?
expand  I want to set up a trust – what do I do?
The Probate Court deals only with testamentary trusts, which are created by will. If this is the type of trust you are interested in creating, you should discuss it with your attorney when you have your will drawn up. If you are interested in Inter Vivos Trust (also known as living trusts) it falls under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court. Please consult an attorney for further information concerning this subject.  
 
expand  If I set up trusts, do I still need a will?
expand  What are the Vermont Statutes for Trusts?
The Vermont Statutes are 14 VSA Chapter 105 (Secs. 2301 - 2329) and (Sec.2314 - Concerning Replacement of Intervivos Trustee) at Vermont Statutues Online.