The probate division of the Superior Court handles adoptions; corrections to birth, death, and marriage records; emancipation; guardianship; authorization of nonresident clergy to perform marriages; and probate (proving the validity) of estates, trusts, and wills. There are 14 probate division judges who are elected for four-year terms.

Some legal matters that are not listed here may fall under the jurisdiction of other Vermont courts. To find information on legal topics not covered by this web page, please visit the Vermont Judiciary's Going to Court page.

Adoption

The probate division handles several different kinds of adoptions. All adoption cases are confidential.

Emancipation

Until minors become adults, at age 18, they are legally incapable of making contracts or taking other legal actions. Minors are legally subject to the control of their parents. Emancipation releases minors from this control and allows them to make contracts and live independently.

Estates and Wills

The probate process is a safety measure for the distribution of property when someone dies. The probate division examines the legality of a will. It then oversees the administration of the estate to ensure that the executor or administrator correctly performs their duties, follows laws, and honors final wishes. The probate process also assures payment of debts and converts property titles to the new owners. If there is no will, the probate process establishes the correct distribution of the estate.

Trusts

There are two types of trusts under the jurisdiction of the probate division of the Vermont Superior Court: testamentary and nontestamentary.

Guardianships: Adults

There are three major types of guardianship under the jurisdiction of the probate division of the Vermont Superior Court: involuntary and voluntary guardianships for adults and guardianships of minors.

If you believe an adult is incapable of managing either their own personal care or their financial affairs or both, you may petition the court to appoint a guardian to promote the person's well-being or protect the person's human and civil rights. This is called an involuntary guardianship. The court may appoint a total guardian or a limited guardian. In either case, the guardian encourages the person under guardianship to build independence and self-reliance.

If you are an adult who needs help managing your own affairs, you may file a petition in the probate division and request the appointment of a guardian. This is called a voluntary guardianship.

Guardianships: Minors

There are three major types of guardianship under the jurisdiction of the probate division of the Vermont Superior Court: involuntary and voluntary guardianships for adults and guardianships of minors.

Parents are the natural guardians for their children. But there are circumstances when a court-appointed guardianship is needed to provide for a minor's personal care (a custodial guardianship) or protect the minor's property (a financial guardianship) or both.

Authorization to Perform a Marriage

If you live out of state, there are two ways you can be authorized to perform a marriage in Vermont. If you are at least 18 years old, you can get authorization from the secretary of state to serve as a temporary officiant. Or, if you are a member of the clergy, you can get a certificate from the probate division of the Superior Court.

New and Corrected Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates

If you need to correct a certificate of birth, death, or marriage, you may need to get a court order. You can do this through the probate division.

Name Changes

Legal name changes are necessary only if you want to change your name through an official court order. For non-legally-binding, day-to-day usage or for changes after marriage, an official court order is often unnecessary. To return to your maiden name, for example, the family division can include the change in the final divorce decree. If you do choose to legally change your name, the process is simple. You must file the petition in your county of residence.

Court Forms

Browse the Vermont Judiciary court forms library to access forms you need for your case.

Fees

The Vermont Legislature sets most of the fees charged for services provided by the Judiciary. The Justices of the Supreme Court establish rules to govern the allowance of fees not specified by law. Motions or petitions filed by one party at one time shall be assessed one fee.