Passports are not processed by the Madison-Guilford Probate Court. Please visit the U.S. Department of State website for locations.
The Madison-Guilford Court is a division of the Connecticut Judicial Branch - a State Court that by law must have a facility provided by the municipalities comprising the districts it serves. Madison Memorial Town Hall became a logical seat of the consolidated court because it is a prominent, historic building in a relatively central location. The interior and exterior of the building convey the feelings of decorum that a court house deserves.
The Probate Court is the oldest court system in the United States, carved from the larger "General Courts" in the year 1698. When Guilford Probate District was established by the legislature in 1719, it included Madison and all the shoreline towns from Branford to the Connecticut River. Gradually, this large judicial district was pared down to serve individual towns as individual districts. Thus, the recent consolidation of courts reflects a return trend to larger districts.
Probate courts are sometimes referred to as "People's Courts" because they serve people in so many sensitive matters- often during the most painful and vulnerable times in their lives. In particular, the Probate Court tends to serve minor children and elderly citizens, such as in proceedings for guardianships and conservatorships. However, the Probate Court also serves to protect all people, such as beneficiaries under wills, persons with disabilities of all kinds, and even unborn persons.
The Constitution of Connecticut and the United States guarantees that "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or happiness without the due process of law."
Due process is how the Probate Court honors and protects your Constitutional freedoms by providing:
- A fair hearing before an impartial tribunal
- Proper notice
- Opportunity to be heard
- Right to counsel (legal representation)
While the Probate Court is a limited statutory jurisdiction court with regard to powers and authority, it has a wide jurisdiction over diverse matters, beginning with decedent's estates, which was the Court's original role. The word probate is a Latin derivative and means "to prove or make valid," which is the first step of the Court when validating or "admitting" a will to probate. This process is proving that a last will and testament is genuine and distributing the property in it is called "probating".
The Probate Court manages more than probate estates. Interestingly, only about 50-60% of the Court's case load involves the settlement of the decedent's estates. Other cases in the Court's jurisdiction include:
- Conservatorships (for persons deemed to be incapable of managing their own affairs)
- Guardianships of minor children (removal/termination of parental rights)
- Guardianships of intellectually disabled adults
- Adoptions (step-parent/co-parent)
- Name changes
- Civil commitments (psychiatric/substance abuse)
- Custody of remains of deceased persons
- Trust accounts (testamentary trusts created under wills)
- Disputes over custodial property held for minor children
- Disputes over actions of persons acting under power of attorney
- Emancipation of minors
- Marriages/civil unions