About the Court
The jurisdiction of the Probate Court is defined In R. C. 2101.24. The Code places many diverse duties upon the Court.
The Ashtabula County Probate Court provides a variety of services to the legal community, as well as the general public. The Court consists of one (1) Judge, one (1) magistrate, one (1) Chief Deputy Clerk and five (5) Deputy Clerks. With the assistance of these people, the Court handles the following administrative functions: the probating of wills, estate administrations (full estates and releases from administration), trusts, guardianships of incompetent adults and minors, commitment hearings for the mentally ill and mentally challenged, adoptions, birth corrections, name changes, delayed birth registrations, custodial accounts, lost heir accounts, order disinterments, Adult Protective Services cases, and issues approximately 650 marriage licenses per year. In addition, the Court tries litigation issues in all the above matters.
A unique aspect of the Probate Court is that the Probate Judge is the ex-officio Clerk of Courts, thus, the Court performs all the duties as its own Clerk of Courts (indexing, filing, docketing, etc.).
History of the Probate Court
The term “Probate” comes from the Latin word Probare, meaning “to prove”. Matters in early English religious courts were proven before an Ecclesiastical Judge. Early American Probate Courts are traced back to those English religious courts which had jurisdiction over the probate of wills and administration of estates.
The first Probate Court in the United States was established in Massachusetts in 1784. Similar courts were established in other states under the name of Surrogate, Orphan Courts, or Court of the Ordinary. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provided for the first Probate Judge and Court in the Ohio Territory. Under the first Ohio Constitution written in 1802, the Court of Common Pleas had exclusive jurisdiction of probate matters. The Constitution of 1851 removed probate matters from the jurisdiction of Common Pleas Court and created a separate Probate Court in each county. Subsequent amendments to the Constitution in 1912, 1951, 1968 and 1973, and changes in the codified law in 1932 and 1976 have made the Probate Court what it is today; a separate division of the Court of Common Pleas.
Probate Court Mission Statement
The mission of the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division, is to provide prompt and fair resolutions to legal issues, disputes and other legal matters for all who appear before the Court, and for all whom the Court has a duty to protect. The Court will serve the citizens of the community with dedication, professionalism, and integrity, and will strive to: accurately and efficiently maintain its court records; provide timely access to the court and its public records; and fulfill its obligations and responsibilities as established by Ohio law.
The funds required for the daily operation of the Probate Court are provided through the General Fund of Ashtabula County as allocated by the County Commissioners. The court returns a substantial amount of money to the General Fund through the collection of court costs and fees which are established by the Ohio legislature.
The jurisdiction of the Probate Court is defined in the Ohio Revised Code. The Code places many diverse duties upon the court. The following is a brief outline and description of some of those duties.
Administration of Estates
The largest responsibility of the court involves the supervision of decedents’ estates. This Court’s annual estate case load is approximately 750 estates.
The court supervises the estate administration by appointing an estate fiduciary (executor or administrator) when necessary, who must collect the assets of the decedent, pay all the legal obligations and debts of the decedent and distribute the remaining assets to those who are entitled to inherit. Most full estates are closed within nine months.
A properly drafted and executed will is beneficial and will allow the estate to be administered more efficiently. It is recommended that an attorney be consulted for the preparation of a will.
Another major responsibility of the Probate Court is to protect those persons who cannot protect themselves such as adult mentally incompetent persons and minors. Those persons may not be able to protect their financial affairs and/or their person. To protect the interests of those persons, the Court appoints a guardian who is accountable to the Court for the management of the ward’s estate and person. The court’s annual guardianship case load is approximately 65 cases.
The Probate Court oversees numerous types of trusts including testamentary trusts which are established by a decedent’s will, inter vivos trusts which are established by an individual during his or her lifetime, wrongful death trusts which are established by the Probate Court for the protection of minors who receive funds from the wrongful death of a relative, and supplemental needs trusts to provide a higher quality of life for the disabled.
Mental Illness and Mental Retardation
The Probate Court oversees the involuntary civil commitment process of individuals who are alleged to be mentally ill or mentally retarded. The Court conducts hearings to determine whether the individual is subject to hospitalization and to determine the length and place of treatment. All individuals involved have legal representation throughout the process. Approximately 10 to 15 commitment hearings are conducted annually by this Probate Court. These proceedings and records are confidential by law.
All adoptions filed in Ashtabula County must be finalized by the Probate Court. Those wishing to adopt are required to submit to a personal home investigation to insure their suitability as adoptive parents. Approximately 50 adoptions are filed annually. The hearings and records are confidential by law.
The Probate Court has the authority to correct birth certificates and to issue delayed birth certificates for those individuals born within the State of Ohio. Birth certificates for individuals born in Ashtabula County, as well as death certificates of individuals who passed away in Ashtabula County between 1867 and 1908 can be found at Ashtabula County Probate Court. After 1908, individuals born in Conneaut or Ashtabula, birth records are located in their respective municipal health departments. Individuals born in any other area of the county, the birth records are located at the Ashtabula County Health Department. Likewise, after 1908, individuals who passed away in Conneaut or Ashtabula, the death records are located at their respective municipal health departments; and individuals passing away in any other area of the county, those death records are located at the Ashtabula County Health Department.
Change of Name
An Ashtabula County resident who desires to legally change his or her name must file an application in the Ashtabula County Probate Court. The Court hears name changes for both adults and minors. The person seeking the name change must be a resident of Ashtabula County for at least one year prior to filing the application. All matters are set for hearing and publication is required in all cases. Approximately 50 name changes are processed annually in the Probate Court.
Marriage Licenses– By Appointment Only; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. - (440) 576-3451
Approximately 650 marriage licenses are issued annually by the Ashtabula County Probate Court to couples who desire to be married within the State of Ohio. The cost of a marriage license is $50.00 and includes 3 certified copies of the complete marriage record. Additional copies requested at the time of license issuance are $5.00. each.
Applicants are encouraged to apply for marriage licenses by virtual appointment. Marriage licenses are issued in-person at the Probate Court on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.
- Ohio residents must obtain a license within the county where either applicant resides. (At least one of the applicants must be a resident of Ashtabula County for a marriage license to be issued by the Ashtabula County Probate Court.) The license is valid anywhere in the State of Ohio for 60 days from the day of issuance.
- Out-of-state residents getting married in Ohio must obtain a license in the county where the ceremony will take place.
- Any applicant under the age of 18 must first file a petition for consent to the marriage of a minor with the Ashtabula County Juvenile Court. After you have obtained the consent of the Juvenile Court, a license may not be issued until 14 days after the final order of the Juvenile Court is filed. The Probate Court will not issue a license or accept an application prior to the 14 days. A copy of the order must be provided before an application will be accepted.
- Both applicants must not be nearer of kin than second cousins and not have a spouse living.
- Applicants must provide proof of identification, such as a driver’s license or State-issued ID, passport, or birth certificate.
- Applicants must complete a marriage license application and furnish the following information: social security number, current address, information regarding prior marriages, including divorce decrees case numbers, dates, and prior spouses’ names, city of birth, and parents’ names.
Virtual Appointment Requirements
- To obtain a marriage license, both applicants must be present in the same location for the virtual appointment.
- Applicants must submit an application before a virtual appointment will be scheduled.
- Applicants must have a valid email address, printer, and working video camera, such as a laptop or smart device.
- Applicants must present valid photo identification during the virtual appointment.
- Applicants must provide a credit or debit card for payment of $50 marriage license fee, or mail a money order prior to the appointment. E-Checks are not accepted for Virtual Appointments.
- Applicants must return original signed abstract with the officiant return in order for the marriage to be recorded.
In-Person Application Requirements
- Applicants must complete the marriage license application and furnish all information required above. Exact Cash, money order, or credit/debit cards are accepted for the $50 marriage license fee. There is a convenience fee for all credit/debit transactions. E-checks are not accepted for Virtual Appointments.
- Licenses will be issued on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Both applicants must be present.
- Applicants must follow all posted requirements for entrance to the Probate Court.
To expedite the process:It is not required to submit an Application prior to the appointment, but it significantly reduces the time required at each appointment. Please prepare the Marriage License Application and submit it to the Court before calling to schedule your appointment.
Please note that the Probate Judge does not perform marriages.
To request a certified copy of your marriage record for a new Ohio ID:
Please fill out and submit the following form: Marriage License Certified Copy Request.
The Honorable Albert S. Camplese is the Judge and Clerk of the Ashtabula County Probate Court. This Court of Common Pleas Judgeship is an elected position with a six year term. As the Clerk of the Probate Court, the Judge is responsible for keeping and maintaining all records and filings in the Probate Court.
Under Ohio Law, a Judge may appoint Magistrates, who are attorneys admitted to practice in this State, to handle certain cases filed with the Court. Due to its increasing case load, the Ashtabula County Probate Court uses a Magistrate to assist the Judge in the operation of the Court. The Magistrate hears cases and issues decisions which may become the Court’s Order or be modified by the Judge upon review. Use of a Magistrate has proven to be an efficient and effective means of handling the increasing volume of filings in the Ashtabula County Probate Court.
The Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Revised code authorizes the Probate Judge to appoint Deputy Clerks to assist in carrying out the business of the Court. The specific task of each clerk varies from that of issuing marriage licenses to handling and reviewing inventories and accounts. Each clerk is authorized to act in an official capacity to certify records and accept filings for the Probate Court.
Other Types of Actions in the Probate Court
Adult Protective Service Protective Orders
Designation of Heirship
Guardianships of Minors
Presumption of Death
Protective Services for Mentally Retarded Persons
Wrongful Death Settlements
Legal Practice in the Probate Court
Legal practice in the Probate Court is restricted by law to attorneys who are licensed by the Supreme Court of Ohio. Due to the complexity of the law and desire to avoid costly errors, most individuals who have filings before the Court are represented by an attorney. Court employees are prohibited by statute from practicing law and cannot give legal advice.