Jackson County tackles growing probate caseload

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County has been dealing with an increased number of probate cases and expects that caseload to grow as baby boomers age, according to court officials.

The Probate Division of the Jackson County Circuit Court had 3,608 probate cases in 2011, and 325 of those involved adult guardianship and conservatorship — a 37 percent increase over 10 years ago. Probate cases involve monitoring the finances and well-being of people who are incapacitated, disabled or minors.

The court expects the numbers of cases to continue to increase in part because the number of Missourians aged 65 or older is expected to increase by 72 percent in the next 20 years, the court said in a release. The number of cases involving guardianships of minors has also gone up considerably. There were 463 such cases filed in 2011, up from 232 in 2001, said court spokeswoman Valerie Hartman.

The probate division on Friday was dedicating a new $225,000 courtroom at the downtown courthouse to accommodate the growing caseload. The judge and two commissioners assigned to hear probate cases have been working out of one courtroom, which has created scheduling difficulties.

"We have needed an additional courtroom for probate matters for over 30 years," Judge Kathleen A. Forsyth said in the release.

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