A Brief History
The Connecticut Probate Courts have a rich history beginning with their creation in 1666. At the time of its creation, the colony divided probate courts within the counties of Hartford, Fairfield, New Haven, and New London. These courts only heard matters regarding wills, and to settle the estates of deceased persons. The county courts were then reorganized in 1698 to create more local forums. These local forums consisted of a county court judge and two justices, and heard matters concerning wills, estates, and the appointment of guardians. Finally, in 1716 an act was passed establishing official courts of probate in the four counties. This act limited the courts to one judge and clerk who were appointed to serve in each court for a period of one year. Since 1850, the voters of the town comprising the respective probate districts have elected probate judges.
Specifically, the Farmington Probate court was established in January of 1769 by a Royal Decree, and enacted by the Governor, the Council and the Representatives in the General court. The district to the north west of the Hartford district became The Farmington District and included the surrounding towns. The first probate judge for the Farmington Probate court was Solomon Whitman who served from 1769-1784. His first clerk was John Treadwell. The original jurisdiction of the then new Farmington probate court was primarily to oversee estates, guardians, and trusts.
There have been some other major jurisdictional changes within the court. The first of these changes occurred in 1810, when the Simsbury court annexed all of the New Hartford probate matters. Between 1824 and 1834, the towns of Berlin, Southington, Bristol, and Burlington were removed from the Farmington Probate district. Finally, the Avon Probate court was created in 1844, and the Plainville Probate court was created in 1909. The courts then remained much the same until 2011 when the entire State of Connecticut underwent a massive consolidation of the probate courts, bringing the number from over 100 districts down to 54 District Courts and 6 specialized Children’s Courts.
Today, the towns of Farmington and Burlington, including Unionville, are serviced by the Farmington-Burlington Probate Court PD10, and the jurisdiction includes over 72 areas, ranging from Trusts, Estates, Conservatorships, Parental Rights/Guardianships over minors, Guardians of Intellectually/Developmentally Disabled, Civil Commitments/Mental Health matters, and even name changes.