Probate courts, formerly called courts of ordinary, have original jurisdiction in the probation of wills, administration of estates, appointment of guardians, and involuntary hospitalization of mentally incapacitated adults.
Each county has a probate court with one probate judge, elected for a term of four years in countywide partisan elections. Qualifications for this office vary. In larger counties, those with a population greater than 96,000, a candidate for probate judge must have practiced law for seven years and be at least 30 years of age. In all counties a candidate for probate judge must be at least 25 years of age, a high school graduate, and a county resident for at least two years preceding the election.
Probate Judges administer oaths of office and issue marriage licenses. They also supervise the printing of election ballots and the counting of votes, and in some counties they have jurisdiction over traffic and compulsory school attendance laws. They may hold habeas corpus hearings or preside over criminal preliminary hearings.
Probate judges may handle certain misdemeanor cases, traffic cases, and violations of state game and fish laws in counties where there is no state court.