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CCE and ATJC Publish New Report on Probate Reform


On February 9, 2022, the Council for Court Excellence (CCE) and the D.C. Access to Justice Commission (ATJC) published Strengthening Probate Administration in the District of Columbia. When a person dies, their debts must be paid and their property distributed, through the probate process. Probate is a complex area of law and many people cannot afford an attorney to guide them through it.

In January 2020, CCE and ATJC formed an expert Working Group to address the challenges faced by self-represented individuals during probate. The Working Group ultimately developed recommendations in 20 areas to strengthen probate processes for everyone and increase access to justice for low- and moderate-income people.

The report’s release comes after over two years of research into other jurisdictions, case reviews, and interviews with self-represented individuals, D.C. probate court employees, and legal practitioners. The diverse and distinguished Working Group included experienced probate lawyers, public interest advocates, independent subject-matter experts, and Superior Court judges* and the Register of Wills.*

The report, created with support from the State Justice Institute, includes recommendations spanning 20 different topic areas, including:

  • Expanding Community Education on Estate Planning and Probate Administration;
  • Simplifying Transfers of Certain Property and Notice Requirements;
  • Increasing Access to Self-Help Materials and Legal Advice;
  • Adjusting Levels for Allowances, Reimbursements, and Small Estates; and more.

“The last major legislative change to probate administration in the District occurred over two decades ago. The complexity of probate administration, coupled with an expected surge in cases and the lack of resources for self-represented individuals, creates a growing crisis that the D.C. Courts, the legal community, and advocates recognize and want to address. This report makes recommendations that will address these issues through legislative and procedural changes that will make probate a more accessible and efficient process for all stakeholders,” says David H. Cox, Co-Chair of the Estate Administration Working Group.

*Advisory members.


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