Here are the 2007 stat’s for the probate courts in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach county. You can find all of this data here and download numbers for your local probate court here. My chart only reports on the “cases filed” figures; click here, here and here for all the details. But numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. To understand the breadth of issues probate judges contend with in an average year, below is the official definition given for each of the listed categories. Finally, as a rough measure of how busy these judges are on average, I took the total filing figure and divided it by the number of probate judges serving in each respective county.

So what’s it all mean?

In Dade – on average – each judge took on close to 2,600 NEW cases in 2007, and in Broward and Palm Beach counties the average new case load figure hovered around 2,000 per judge. Keep in mind that these figures don’t take into account each judge’s EXISTING case load. These case-load figures may be appropriate for uncontested probate proceedings, which likely represent 99% of the cases administered by our probate courts. However, when it comes to that 1% of probate cases that are litigated, these same case-load figures suggest to me that the “cold judge” factor I wrote about here needs to be weighed heavily every time you ask a court system designed to handle un-contested proceedings to adjudicate a complex trial or basically rule on any contested and technically demanding issue or pre-trial motion of significance that can’t be disposed of in the few minutes allotted to the average probate matter.

2007 Probate Court Filing Statistics

Type of Case Dade Broward Palm Beach
Probate 4,103  4,917  4,823
Guardianship 936  504  495
Trust 67  84  234
Baker Act 3,653  1,943  1,110
Substance Abuse 709  589  1,021
Other Social 884  392  246
Total 10,352  8,429  7,929
# Judges 4  4  4
Total/Judge 2,588  2,107  1,982


Probate: All matters relating to the validity of wills and their execution; distribution, management, sale, transfer and accounting of estate property; and ancillary administration pursuant to chapters 731, 732, 733, 734, and 735, Florida Statutes.

Guardianship (Adult or Minor): All matters relating to determination of status; contracts and conveyances of incompetents; maintenance custody of wards and their property interests; control and restoration of rights; appointment and removal of guardians pursuant to chapter 744, Florida Statues; appointment of guardian advocates for individuals with developmental disabilities pursuant to section 393.12, Florida Statutes; and actions to remove the disabilities of non-age minors pursuant to sections 743.08 and 743.09, Florida Statutes.

Trusts: All matters relating to the right of property, real or personal, held by one party for the benefit of another pursuant to chapter [736], Florida Statutes.

Florida Mental Health Act or Baker Act: All matters relating to the care and treatment of individuals with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders pursuant to sections 394.463 and 394.467, Florida Statutes.

Substance Abuse Act: All matters related to the involuntary assessment/treatment of substance abuse pursuant to sections 397.6811 and 397.693, Florida Statutes.

Other Social Cases: All other matters involving involuntary commitment not included under the Baker and Substance Abuse Act categories. The following types of cases would
be included, but not limited to:

  • Tuberculosis control cases pursuant to sections 392.55, 392.56, and 392.57, Florida Statutes;
  • Developmental disability cases under section 393.11, Florida Statutes;
  • Review of surrogate or proxy’s health care decisions pursuant to section 765.105, Florida Statutes, and rule 5.900, Florida Probate Rules;
  • Incapacity determination cases pursuant to sections 744.3201, 744.3215, and 744.331, Florida Statutes;
  • Adult Protective Services Act cases pursuant to section 415.104, Florida Statutes.