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.


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

Birth Order

Per V.S.A. 15C section 708, a relevant party can petition the Probate Division to obtain an order to declare the intended parent(s) and can be filed before or after the birth of the child. 


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.

Guardianship: 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.

Guardianship: 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.

Name Change

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.


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

Vulnerable Noncitizen Children

The legislature has established a process to ask the court for an order to protect a child who is not a U.S. citizen. A petition can be filed in the family division or the probate division, and can be filed as a new case, or filed in an existing case.

A “child” is defined as someone who is under 21 and who is not married. The child must have been:

  • found to be a dependent of the court, or
  • legally committed to a State agency or department or an individual or entity appointed by the court, or
  • placed under the custody of a State agency.

You must be able to show:

  • The child has suffered from abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar circumstances and their health, safety, or welfare is in jeopardy.
  • The child may not be reunified with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar circumstance.
  • It is not in the best interest of the child to return to their country of origin, their parent’s country of origin, or the country of last habitual residence.

See 14 VSA § 3098 and 33 VSA § 5126 for the full text of the laws related to vulnerable noncitizen children.

Wills and Estates

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.

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.

See 18 V.S.A. § 5144 for more information about who may perform a marriage. 

New and Corrected Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates

If you need to correct a certificate of marriage or civil union, you may need to get a court order. You can do this through the probate division using the forms and information on the New and Corrected Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates webpage.

As of July 1, 2019, corrections, completions or amendments of a certificate of birth or death must be submitted to the State Registrar’s Office of Vital Records. For the correct forms and information on how to do this please visit the Office of Vital Records’ website. If the Office of Vital Records’ denies your request, you can file an appeal with the probate division. Click here for more information.

Appeals of State Registrar’s Denial of Application to Issue a New, Corrected or Amended Birth or Death Certificate

Applications for a new, corrected, amended or delayed birth certificate, or for a corrected or amended death certificate should be submitted to the State Registrar of Vital Records.

If the State Registrar denies your application, you may appeal the decision by filing a Notice of Appeal in the Probate Division of the Superior Court. 


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.