Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire
| For Immediate Release:
June 9, 2015
Court system launches pilot program for filing Guardianships on-line
CONCORD - Building on the success of its on-line program for small claims cases, the Judicial Branch announced today that it will launch a pilot program for electronic filing of guardianships in the Family and Probate Divisions of the Circuit Court located in Brentwood and Laconia starting on June 19. Court administrators plan on having all of the 2,800 petitions for guardianships filed statewide each year on-line by the end of 2015.
Edwin W. Kelly, Administrative Judge of the Circuit Court, explained that, in New Hampshire, guardianships include petitions regarding minors and incapacitated persons. “The family division of the Circuit Court handles cases involving minors, while the probate division is responsible for cases involving individuals who are incapacitated,” he said. “Guardianships are not filed at nearly the rate of small claims cases, however, they are critically important and concern sensitive matters involving family members and loved ones who are making major decisions concerning the welfare of children, the elderly and people who are unable to care for themselves, all of whom need to be protected.”
Kelly added, “But just like small claims, individuals applying for guardianships in Brentwood and Laconia will no longer have to stand in line at the courthouse because they can file on-line at their convenience. Guardianships also require annual filings that can often continue for many years, so by going electronic, yearly accounts will be automated which will take all of the paperwork, and hopefully much of the stress, out of the process.”
The Judicial Branch began on-line offerings, called the NH e-Court Project, with two small claims pilot courts back in July of 2014. Now all 32 district division locations, that deal with approximately 10,000 small claims cases every year, are exclusively electronic and operating with great success.
Reflecting on what the court system learned from that extraordinary endeavor, Kelly said, “With small claims, we experienced first-hand what is involved in totally re-engineering a process that had basically not changed in 100 years. I can’t say enough about the judges, administrators and staff who stepped up and made it happen. We always knew that self-represented individuals and attorneys could make the transition to on-line filing with us. I have every confidence that our small claims success will carry over into guardianships and all other case types that will follow in the near future.”