CHAPTER 801a*

PROBATE COURT: JURISDICTION, POWERS

*Probate Court’s statutory power does not include preservation of historic landmarks nor jurisdiction over environmental issues. 27 CA 479. Sec. 45a-98 et seq. cited. Id.

Table of Contents

Sec. 45a-98. (Formerly Sec. 45-4). General powers.

Sec. 45a-98a. Jurisdiction of Probate Court to determine title or rights or to construe instruments. Limitations. Affidavit of intent to claim jury trial, effect on Probate Court proceedings.

Sec. 45a-98b. Power to issue order for disclosure of relevant medical information.

Sec. 45a-99. (Formerly Sec. 45-3b). Jurisdiction to grant change of name. Exceptions. Requirements re persons required to register with Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection as a sexual offender. Commissioner’s standing to challenge change of name.

Sec. 45a-100. Power to grant relief from federal firearms disability.

Secs. 45a-101 to 45a-104. Reserved


Sec. 45a-98. (Formerly Sec. 45-4). General powers. (a) Courts of probate in their respective districts shall have the power to (1) grant administration of intestate estates of persons who have died domiciled in their districts and of intestate estates of persons not domiciled in this state which may be granted as provided by section 45a-303; (2) admit wills to probate of persons who have died domiciled in their districts or of nondomiciliaries whose wills may be proved in their districts as provided in section 45a-287; (3) except as provided in section 45a-98a or as limited by an applicable statute of limitations, determine title or rights of possession and use in and to any real, tangible or intangible property that constitutes, or may constitute, all or part of any trust, any decedent’s estate, or any estate under control of a guardian or conservator, which trust or estate is otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the Probate Court, including the rights and obligations of any beneficiary of the trust or estate and including the rights and obligations of any joint tenant with respect to survivorship property; (4) except as provided in section 45a-98a, construe the meaning and effect of any will or trust agreement if a construction is required in connection with the administration or distribution of a trust or estate otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the Probate Court, or, with respect to an inter vivos trust, if that trust is or could be subject to jurisdiction of the court for an accounting pursuant to section 45a-175, provided such an accounting need not be required; (5) except as provided in section 45a-98a, apply the doctrine of cy pres or approximation; (6) to the extent provided for in section 45a-175, call executors, administrators, trustees, guardians, conservators, persons appointed to sell the land of minors, and attorneys-in-fact acting under powers of attorney created in accordance with section 45a-562, to account concerning the estates entrusted to their charge; and (7) make any lawful orders or decrees to carry into effect the power and jurisdiction conferred upon them by the laws of this state.

(b) The jurisdiction of courts of probate to determine title or rights or to construe instruments or to apply the doctrine of cy pres or approximation pursuant to subsection (a) of this section is concurrent with the jurisdiction of the Superior Court and does not affect the power of the Superior Court as a court of general jurisdiction.

(1949 Rev., S. 6813; P.A. 80-410, S. 1; 80-476, S. 2; P.A. 93-279, S. 6; P.A. 98-219, S. 4.)

History: P.A. 80-410 and P.A. 80-476 specified court power to grant administration of intestate estates and to admit wills to probate in greater detail, extending power to estates of persons not domiciled in state or in court districts and deleted provision re appeals from findings as to domicile; Sec. 45-4 transferred to Sec. 45a-98 in 1991; P.A. 93-279 divided section into Subsecs. and Subdivs., adding Subdivs. (3) and (4) and making technical changes in Subdiv. (5) re jurisdiction to determine title or rights in possession to tangible or intangible property, including rights and obligations of beneficiary and joint tenant and jurisdiction to construe meaning and effect of will or trust agreement in certain cases and adding as Subsec. (b) provision re concurrent jurisdiction with superior court to determine title or rights or to construe instruments; P.A. 98-219 added provisions re application of doctrine of cy pres or approximation.

Annotations to former section 45-4:

Decrees upon matters within their jurisdiction conclusive until regularly set aside. 1 D. 172; 3 D. 326; 5 D. 217; 7 C. 23; 17 C. 392; 23 C. 8; 31 C. 422; 35 C. 359; id., 523; 38 C. 271; 48 C. 173; 50 C. 330; 64 C. 493; 76 C. 416; appointment of guardian; 75 C. 308; determining distributees; 69 C. 64; 71 C. 122; 89 C. 421; authorizing settlement of disputed claim; 86 C. 470; approving will; 67 C. 90; 76 C. 416; limiting time for settlement of estate; 69 C. 696; removal of executor; 86 C. 281; appointing executor; 92 C. 654; requiring trustee to file an account. Id., 291. But court may, for certain causes, revoke its orders and correct mistakes; 13 C. 226; 35 C. 123; 36 C. 193; see 31 C. 382; but not ordinarily; 81 C. 688; as where will is admitted to probate and estate settled and then later will is offered; 76 C. 416; but its decree may be attacked for fraud, and it binds only parties and privies; 66 C. 140; and necessity of notice. 77 C. 77. Distinction between want of and erroneous exercise of jurisdiction. 67 C. 185. Effect of order making allowances to widow. 69 C. 694. Effect of decree accepting account. 77 C. 70; 79 C. 555; 82 C. 33; 85 C. 279. Effect of parties uniting in request for order. 75 C. 603. Not usual to make order unless parties request it. 15 C. 122. Courts have special and limited jurisdiction; 26 C. 273; 31 C. 383; 34 C. 446; 92 C. 26; id., 657; 93 C. 405; 120 C. 409. A will cannot confer jurisdiction. 69 C. 708. It cannot give jurisdiction over estate of nonresident; at least a prima facie showing of property here is necessary. 76 C. 118; 83 C. 240. Mutual distribution does not end power of court. 72 C. 555. Entire settlement of estates appertains to courts of probate. 7 C. 307; Id., 315; 8 C. 281; 24 C. 246; 31 C. 279; 33 C. 512; 36 C. 294; 43 C. 75; 49 C. 580. Has chancery powers on matters within its jurisdiction. 8 C. 281; 9 C. 182; 10 C. 121; 27 C. 250; 37 C. 197; 41 C. 559. But court cannot determine equities between distributees and strangers arising after distribution. 69 C. 701; 82 C. 308. It cannot pass on contract between persons entitled to estate. 44 C. 327. Cannot allow claims against estate of insolvent. 10 C. 238. Cannot try question of title. 35 C. 114; 53 C. 37; 84 C. 560; but see 71 C. 129. Incidental power to construe will. 70 C. 364; 71 C. 122. If there is doubt as to validity of trust, court should appoint trustee. 74 C. 601; 77 C. 705. Power to pass on fulfillment of condition of bequest. 67 C. 385. Power to pass on antenuptial agreement claimed to bar dower. 66 C. 133. Effect of decrees determining rights not ordinarily within jurisdiction. 71 C. 129. Cannot decree forfeiture under conditions of will. 35 C. 210. Can make order terminating trust and directing payment of money. 82 C. 558; but see 93 C. 406. Jurisdiction not presumed; must appear of record. 86 C. 351. Power of legislature to set aside decree and order new hearing. 3 Dal. 386. Location of estate is not material upon issue of jurisdiction of court to grant administration of estates of persons who died domiciled in district. 115 C. 301. In ascertaining distributees, probate court has jurisdiction to answer the question of whether the doctrine of approximation is applicable. 139 C. 435. Cited. 143 C. 662. Probate court has only such jurisdiction as is expressly or by necessary implication conferred by statute. 148 C. 642; 153 C. 603, 614. Cited. 150 C. 565; 152 C. 528. The superior court, on an appeal from probate, sits as, and has no greater power than, a court of probate. 153 C. 603, 614. Cited. 155 C. 417; 158 C. 294. Cited. 204 C. 303.

Cited. 6 CA 530.

Where doings of commissioners, appointed to decide claims, were vacated by the taking of an appeal, a decree reopening the commission, when the appeal was discontinued, was a valid exercise of the inherent power of the probate court. 18 CS 202. Court is one of limited jurisdiction and may only exercise such powers, including equitable power, as is derived from statutes. 22 CS 80. Probate court is the only tribunal competent to decide question of due execution of a will. 23 CS 101. Order to ancillary trustee in Connecticut to transfer trust assets here to trustee outside state is within jurisdiction of probate court. 28 CS 499, 501. Cited. 39 CS 157, 158.

Annotations to present section:

Cited. 44 CS 592.

Subsec. (a):

Subdiv. (3): Legislature intended P.A. 93-279 to vest Probate Court with concurrent jurisdiction with Superior Court to try title to real and personal property in which a claim is made that said property is an asset of a trust, a decedent’s estate or any estate under the control of a conservator or guardian; Probate Court did not have jurisdiction over plaintiff’s action for specific performance of contract for sale of property because claim involved no dispute as to whether title to that property was in fact an asset of decedent’s estate as required for jurisdiction under Subdiv. 292 C. 696.

Subsec. (b):

Section is a declaration that Probate Court and Superior Court are to have concurrent jurisdiction over matters involving title and rights to property. 50 CA 132.

Sec. 45a-98a. Jurisdiction of Probate Court to determine title or rights or to construe instruments. Limitations. Affidavit of intent to claim jury trial, effect on Probate Court proceedings. (a) The Probate Court shall have jurisdiction under subdivision (3), (4) or (5) of subsection (a) of section 45a-98 only if (1) the matter in dispute is not pending in another court of competent jurisdiction and (2) the Probate Court does not decline jurisdiction. Before the initial hearing on the merits of a matter in dispute in which jurisdiction is based on subdivision (3), (4) or (5) of subsection (a) of section 45a-98, the Probate Court may, on its own motion, decline to take jurisdiction of the matter in dispute. Before the initial hearing on the merits of such a matter, any interested person may file an affidavit that such person is entitled and intends under section 52-215 to claim a trial of the matter by jury. In that case, the Probate Court shall allow the person filing the affidavit a period of sixty days within which to bring an appropriate civil action in the Superior Court to resolve the matter in dispute. If such an action is brought in the Superior Court, the matter, after determination by the Superior Court, shall be returned to the Probate Court for completion of the Probate Court proceedings.

(b) If a party fails to file an affidavit of intent to claim a jury trial prior to the initial hearing in the Probate Court on the merits, or having filed such an affidavit, fails to bring an action in the Superior Court within the sixty-day period allowed by the Probate Court, the party shall be deemed to have consented to a hearing on the matter in the Probate Court and to have waived any right under section 52-215 or other applicable law to a trial by jury.

(P.A. 93-279, S. 7; P.A. 98-219, S. 5.)

History: P.A. 98-219 amended Subsec. (a) by adding references to Sec. 45a-98(a)(5).

Subsec. (a):

Cited. 44 CS 592.

Sec. 45a-98b. Power to issue order for disclosure of relevant medical information. In any proceeding before a court of probate, the court may issue an order for the disclosure of medical information relevant to the determination of the matter before the court. The order may require the disclosure of such medical information to: (1) The court; (2) any executor, administrator, conservator, guardian or trustee appointed by the court; (3) any attorney representing the individual who is the subject of such medical information; (4) any guardian ad litem for the individual who is the subject of such medical information; (5) any physician, psychiatrist or psychologist who has been ordered by the court to conduct an examination of such individual; or (6) any other party to the proceeding determined by the court to require such medical information in the interests of justice. Any such medical information filed with the court shall be confidential.

(P.A. 04-142, S. 7.)

Sec. 45a-99. (Formerly Sec. 45-3b). Jurisdiction to grant change of name. Exceptions. Requirements re persons required to register with Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection as a sexual offender. Commissioner’s standing to challenge change of name. (a) The courts of probate shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the Superior Court, as provided in section 52-11, to grant a change of name, except a change of name granted in accordance with subsection (a) of section 46b-63, except that no court of probate may issue an order or otherwise allow for the change of name of a person who is required to register with the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection as a sexual offender unless such person complies with the requirements of subdivision (1) of subsection (b) of this section.

(b) (1) Any person who is required to register with the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection as a sexual offender who files an application with the Court of Probate for a change of name shall (A) prior to filing such application, notify the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection, on such form as the commissioner may prescribe, that the person intends to file an application for a change of name, indicating the change of name sought, and (B) include with such application a sworn statement that such change of name is not being sought for the purpose of avoiding the legal consequences of a criminal conviction, including, but not limited to, a criminal conviction that requires such person to register as a sexual offender.

(2) The Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection shall have standing to challenge such person’s application for a change of name in the court of probate where such change of name is sought. The commissioner shall challenge the change of name through the Attorney General. The court of probate may deny such person’s application for a change of name if the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the person is applying for such change of name for the purpose of avoiding the legal consequences of a criminal conviction.

(c) Whenever the court, pursuant to this section, orders a change of name of a person, the court shall notify the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection of the issuance of such order if the court finds that such person is listed in the registry established and maintained pursuant to section 54-257.

(P.A. 78-33, S. 1; P.A. 80-476, S. 100; P.A. 91-10; P.A. 03-202, S. 18; P.A. 08-54, S. 1; June 12 Sp. Sess. P.A. 12-2, S. 114.)

History: P.A. 80-476 rephrased provision, moving exception from beginning of section to its end; Sec. 45-29v transferred to Sec. 45-3b in 1987; Sec. 45-3b transferred to Sec. 45a-99 in 1991; P.A. 91-10 added “subsection (a) of” before “section 46b-63”; P.A. 03-202 designated existing provisions as Subsec. (a) and added Subsec. (b) re notice to Commissioner of Public Safety; P.A. 08-54 amended Subsec. (a) to add exception re person required to register with Commissioner of Public Safety as a sexual offender, inserted new Subsec. (b) re requirements for sexual offender who files application and standing of commissioner to challenge change of name, and redesignated existing Subsec. (b) as Subsec. (c), effective May 12, 2008; June 12 Sp. Sess. P.A. 12-2 replaced “Commissioner of Public Safety” with “Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection”, effective June 15, 2012.

See Secs. 45a-736, 45a-737 re change of name of adopted persons.

See Secs. 46b-1(6), 52-11 re jurisdiction of Superior Court concerning complaints for change of name.

Annotation to former section 45-3b:

Cited. 17 CA 627.

Annotation to present section:

When the question presented is whether name of a minor child should be changed, the court, in line with its universal duty to protect the interests of minors, must take into consideration whether the change of name will promote the child’s best welfare. 48 CS 647.

Sec. 45a-100. Power to grant relief from federal firearms disability. (a) Any person having a federal firearms disability under 18 USC 922(d)(4) and 18 USC 922(g)(4), as a result of an adjudication or commitment rendered in this state, may petition the probate court for the district in which such person resides for relief from the federal firearms disability that resulted from such adjudication or commitment.

(b) The petitioner shall submit to the Probate Court, together with the petition and the releases required by subsection (d) of this section, information in support of the petition, including, but not limited to:

(1) Certified copies of medical records detailing the petitioner’s psychiatric history where applicable, including records pertaining to the specific adjudication or commitment that is the subject of the petition;

(2) Certified copies of medical records from all of the petitioner’s current treatment providers, if the petitioner is receiving treatment;

(3) A certified copy of all criminal history information maintained on file by the State Police Bureau of Identification and the Federal Bureau of Investigation pertaining to the petitioner or a copy of the response from said bureaus indicating that there is no criminal history information on file;

(4) Evidence of the petitioner’s reputation, which may include notarized letters of reference from current and past employers, family members or personal friends, affidavits from the petitioner or other character evidence; and

(5) Any further information or documents specifically requested by the court, which documents shall be certified copies of original documents.

(c) The petitioner shall cause a copy of the petition and all supporting documents submitted to the Probate Court pursuant to subsection (b) of this section to be delivered to the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection and shall certify to the Probate Court that such delivery has been made.

(d) The petitioner shall provide for the release of all of the petitioner’s records that may relate to the petition, including, but not limited to, health, mental health, military, immigration, juvenile court, civil court and criminal records, on forms prescribed by the Probate Court Administrator. The releases shall authorize the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection to obtain any of such records for use at the Probate Court hearing or in any appeal from the decision of the Probate Court.

(e) The petitioner shall ensure that all required information accompanies the petition at the time it is submitted to the court. Unless specifically requested by the court, information provided after receipt of the petition by the court shall not be considered. Information specifically requested by the court must be received by the court no later than fifteen days after the date of the request in order for the information to be considered. The court may extend such time period for good cause shown. Failure to provide the requested information within such time period may result in a denial of the petition.

(f) Upon the filing of the petition, the Probate Court shall set a date, time and place for a hearing and shall give notice of such hearing to (1) the petitioner, (2) the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection, (3) the court that rendered the adjudication or commitment, (4) the conservator appointed for the petitioner, if any, and (5) any other person determined by the court to have an interest in the matter.

(g) The court shall cause a recording of the testimony given at such hearing to be made. Such recording shall be transcribed only in the event of an appeal from the decision rendered by the Probate Court under this section. A copy of such transcript shall be furnished without charge to any appellant whom the Probate Court finds is unable to pay for such copy. The cost of such transcript shall be paid from funds appropriated to the Judicial Department.

(h) The petitioner shall have the burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the petitioner is not likely to act in a manner that is dangerous to public safety, and (2) granting relief from the federal firearms disability is not contrary to the public interest. The Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection and any other person determined by the court to have an interest in the matter may present any and all relevant information at the Probate Court hearing and in any appeal to the Superior Court.

(i) In determining whether to grant relief under this section, the court shall consider the following:

(1) The circumstances regarding the firearms disability imposed by 18 USC 922(d)(4) and 18 USC 922(g)(4);

(2) The petitioner’s record, which shall include, at a minimum, the petitioner’s mental health records and criminal history records, if any;

(3) The petitioner’s reputation, which the petitioner must demonstrate through character witness statements, testimony or other character evidence; and

(4) Any other relevant information provided by the petitioner, the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection or any other person determined by the court to have an interest in the matter.

(j) The court shall grant relief under this section if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that: (1) The petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety, and (2) granting the relief will not be contrary to the public interest. The court shall include in its decision the specific findings of fact on which it bases its decision.

(k) The petitioner or the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection may appeal the final decision of the Probate Court to the Superior Court in accordance with the provisions of section 45a-186. Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes, any review of the decision of the Probate Court by the Superior Court shall be de novo.

(l) Enforcement of any decision of the Probate Court granting relief pursuant to the petition shall be stayed until the period in which to take an appeal under section 45a-186 has expired or, if an appeal is taken, until the final decision of the court. If the court grants the relief and no appeal is taken or an appeal is taken and the decision is upheld, the court granting relief shall notify the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection of that decision.

(m) As soon as practicable after receiving notice of the decision of the court granting relief, the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection shall (1) coordinate the removal or cancellation of the record in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and (2) notify the Attorney General of the United States that the basis of the record no longer applies.

(n) All proceedings in the Probate Court under the provisions of this section shall be closed to the public and all records of the proceedings shall be confidential and not subject to disclosure except to the petitioner or his or her counsel and the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection, unless the Probate Court, after notice to the parties and a hearing, determines that such records should be disclosed for good cause shown.

(P.A. 11-134, S. 1.)

History: P.A. 11-134 effective July 1, 2011 (Revisor’s note: “Commissioner of Public Safety” was changed editorially by the Revisors to “Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection” to conform with changes made by P.A. 11-51).

Secs. 45a-101 to 45a-104. Reserved for future use.