PA 10-41—sHB 5408

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING PROBATE COURT OPERATIONS

SUMMARY: This act:

1. specifies that Probate Court judges do not get extra compensation for acting as (a) an administrative judge for a regional children's court, (b) a member of a three-judge panel, (c) a special assignment judge, or (d) the probate court administrator and

2. conforms statute to reflect the centralized accounting and new pay formula that go into effect on January 5, 2011.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 5, 2011, except the payroll deduction and financial reporting provisions are effective January 1, 2011 and the provisions relating to (1) the chief court administrator's pay, (2) financial reporting, (3) pro rata salary payments, and (4) work-in-process payments are effective upon passage.

CENTRALIZED ACCOUNTING

Payroll Deductions

PA 09-114 centralized Probate Court accounting and payroll functions and placed them in the Office of the Probate Court Administrator effective January 5, 2011, the start of the next probate term. The act makes conforming changes by authorizing the probate court administrator to (1) deduct statutory retirement contributions from paychecks of judges and court staff and (2) transfer those funds to the Probate Court Retirement Fund. Under prior law, individual probate judges forwarded funds to the treasurer for deposit in the fund.

Financial Reporting

The act also eliminates the following financial reporting requirements, effective January 1, 2011:

1. actual gross receipts and itemized costs of the judge's office and net income for the calendar year,

2. with respect to a judge who dies in office, the same information filed by the judge's personal representative,

3. estimates of annual net income, and

4. at the end of each calendar year, the information listed in item (1) above plus the difference between the amount paid to the state and the amount actually due.

Instead of relying on these reports, under the act and PA 09-114, the chief court administrator will receive equivalent financial information in the normal course of business.

COMPENSATION

Pro Rata Pay for January 1 Through January 4, 2011

The act requires that compensation for January 1 through January 4, 2011 be calculated on a pro rata basis (e. g. , 4/365), rather than using the current law's income-based formula. Under PA 09-114, a simplified calculation formula, based on population and a court's workload goes into effect on January 5, 2011.

Judges Who Leave or Die in Office

Accounts Receivable. Under prior law, when a judge left office, his or her successor made installment payments that reflected the portion of the office's accounts receivable for costs, charges, and fees assessed on the estates that accrued due to the former judge's work. The law also factors in payment amounts for a former judge's work-in-process—work the judge performed which had not concluded when he or she left office.

Under the act, the period in which a former judge or his or her estate receives these payments is capped at December 31 of the second calendar year following the year the judge left office.

Under the act, beginning January 5, 2011, former judges will receive only a sum representing accounts receivable for costs, charges, and fees assessed on estates of decedents arising in a town within the judge's district as of January 4, 2011. Payments are made in yearly installments, which are to be paid on or before April 1 of the year after the receivables were collected. The probate court administrator may deduct (1) assessments, penalties, or interest due to the state treasurer; (2) collection costs; and (3) expenses attributable to the outgoing or deceased judge's term in office.

Work-In-Process Payments. The act eliminates work-in-process payments for judges who have left office. These compensate the former judge for estates on which he or she worked before leaving office that had not yet paid the probate fees. The new compensation formula keeps a judge's compensation current, thus making work-in-process payments unnecessary.

Judges Affected. These provisions do not apply to a judge elected to a term that begins on or after January 5, 2011. The law makes them inapplicable to newly elected judges and judges who return to office after a break in service on or after January 5, 2011.

BACKGROUND

Related Acts

PA 10-34 makes several changes to Probate Court rules and regulations; PA 10-184 changes the method for calculating fees and requires probate proceedings that would otherwise not be recorded to be recorded upon a party's request; and PA 10-121 adds Union to the probate district containing Enfield, Somers, and Stafford.

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