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Probate Court

Clarke County has a long and varied history. What we now know as Clarke County was originally part of the Mississippi Territory. On December 10, 1812, the area that encompassed Washington County, Alabama was split, creating Clarke County as a separate county. Clarke County was named after General John Clarke of Georgia, a noted politician of the day. The Alabama Territory was formed from the Mississippi Territory on March 13, 1817. The Alabama Territory, in turn, became the State of Alabama on December 14, 1819.

Court was first held in Clarke County at the home of John Landrum near Winn in February, 1813. The county did not have a county seat in the beginning, so various private homes in the area were used as court facilities. The home of William Coate became the meeting place in 1819. It was located in Clarkesville, where a courthouse and jail were built. Thus it became the first County seat of Clarke County. Clarkesville did not have an adequate water supply, so the County seat was moved to Grove Hill, which was then known by the name of Macon, in 1832. The name Macon was changed in the 1850’s and the name of the County seat became Grove Hill.

“Clarke County, Alabama and Its Surroundings.” by Rev. T. H. Ball, says “the Commissioners Court of Clarke County received proposals in February, 1837 for the erection of a fire proof brick building for a county and circuit court clerk’s office, for the safe keeping of the records of said county.” In the beginning, an Orphan’s Court met at certain intervals to handle both probate and orphan’s business. It served as not only the main administrative and legislative body in the county, but also had limited criminal and civil jurisdiction. In 1821 the system changed to one judge and one clerk, as opposed to the five-judge panel that was required to sit at Orphan’s Court. The other judges became the Commissioners Court.

A Probate Court was established in each county in 1850, consolidating the positions of judge and clerk. County court functions, with the exception of criminal and civil jurisdiction, were transferred to Probate Court. Since that time, the Probate Office has expanded its responsibilities to include election administration, record keeping, and in some instances, licensing. The Probate Court no longer has jurisdiction for juvenile justice, that responsibility having become the job of district court in 1977. Probate Court as we know it today consists of administering elections, wills and estates, adoptions, appointing Notary Publics, name changes, marriage licenses, property records, involuntary commitments to the State Department of Mental Health, corporation records and various other duties. In Clarke County, the Probate Office and what is now the License Commission Office split off in 1989, creating two separate offices. The License Commission office handles all tag and business license matters, while the Probate Office handles all recording and Probate Court matters.

Unlike Circuit or District Court, where matters of criminal, traffic or civil proceedings take place, the Probate Court deals with life events. From adoptions and legitimations to wills and estates, Probate Court touches the lives of people from birth to death. All citizens of Clarke County, regardless of age, race, gender, social or economic status, regularly come into contact with Probate Court. The Probate Court is the Court of the People.

This website is to help you understand what proceedings go through Probate Court and to help you have a working knowledge about them. Please refer any specific questions regarding proceedings to your attorney.

NOTES FOR RECORDING: Please double check your fees on recording documents to make sure you have the correct amount. Documents sent without exact fees will be returned for correct amount. We may not be able to call you about correcting a fee due to the number of documents received. Documents being hand delivered must be in the office by 4:30 p.m. Multiple documents or large packages must be in earlier to insure recording for that day. We accept checks, money orders or cash. Please note that no personal out of state checks are accepted. We ask that your office send a self addressed stamped envelope large enough to hold your documents with the correct postage on it for returning all mailed documents.

General Fees

Page Fees ($6.00 1st page, $3.00 each additional)
Extra Indexing Fee – extra book/page reference ($1.00 each)
Copies ($1.00 per page)
Certified Copies ($3.00 certification fee plus $1.00 per page)
Additional Names on Documents – after 2nd name ($1.00 each)

Deeds

Deed Tax – Minimum of $500 or $0.50 ($1.00 per $1,000 of value)

NOTE: Beginning August 1, 2012, any deed, bill of sale, or other instrument of like character which conveys any real or personal property within the state or which conveys any interest in any such property presented for record in the Probate Judge’s office to be accompanied by proof of the actual purchase price paid or if not sold proof of the actual value of the property conveyed.

THIS FORM MUST BE FILLED OUT COMPLETELY WHEN THE DEED IS PRESENTED FOR RECORDING. If there is not a sale price, you must put an approximate value for the property on the form. Contact the Tax Assessors office either via phone at (251) 275-3376 or through their website: www.alabamagis.com/clarke.

If the conveyance document presented for recording contains all of the necessary information and is attested, the conveyance document will constitute compliance with the provisions of the Act and the filing and submitting of the form will not be required. However, in order for the form to not be required, the following information MUST be on the document: grantor AND grantees names and mailing addresses, the physical address of the property being conveyed, the actual purchase price paid or the actual value of the property being conveyed. Our office will record the form as part of the instrument recording, so please note that an additional page will be included in all filing fees when utilizing the form provided by the Department of Revenue.

We have received instructions from the state that even if this is a tax-exempt recording, the information and/or form will still be required for filing.

This will be required of ALL deeds recorded with mortgages as well as deeds, etc. recording on their own. The form will be required to show that the mortgage covered the purchase price of the property and that no deed tax would be due on the filing of the deed. If the purchase price is over and above the mortgage amount, deed tax will be due on the difference between the purchase price and the amount financed through the mortgage.

If you have any questions about this new procedure, please contact our office at (251) 275-3251.

Click here to download the RT-1 (pdf)

Mineral Tax – Minimum of $1.00 or $1,000 ($0.15 per net mineral acre)
***Document must state if minerals are producing. If minerals are producing, then deed tax must be paid on value of minerals conveyed. If minerals are not producing, then the mineral tax is paid and the minimum amount for deed tax is due, unless there was a consideration paid for the mineral, in which event you would use the deed tax amount based on the consideration paid.

Mortgages

Recording Tax ($0.15 per $100 of indebtedness)
If amount is not an even hundred amount, you MUST round UP to the next $100

UCC Filings

All UCC Filings Except Cancellations ($20.00 for up to two pages)
Each Additional Page After 2nd Page ($2.00)
UCC-3 (Terminations) (No fee if standard form used)
Non-Standard Form Fee ($5.00)
Request for Information (UCC-11) ($20.00 for each debtor name)
Copies ($1.00 per page)
Certified Copy Request ($5.00 per file #, plus $1.00 per page)

PER THE CODE OF ALABAMA, 1975, the Probate Office no longer accepts UCC filings unless the lien is for real estate or attachments to real estate, such as timber, minerals, etc. The UCC must have a description of the real estate. All other filings are solely with the Office of Secretary of State.

Leases

Lease tax is calculated by multiplying the annual rental amount by the term of lease to get the amount of taxable rent, then multiplying that amount by the percentage (an 8% discount factor) to get the amount for determining deed tax. Percentage sheet and calculation forms are available upon request from clerks.

Corporations

(varies depending on type – check with office for list of specific fees)
All corporate filings must have separate checks made payable to Probate Court and the Secretary of State’s office for appropriate fees.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE:
(251)275-3251, (251) 275-8427- fax, or email the recording clerk at sfuller@clarkecountyal.com
**Please note that it is state law that a preparer’s statement be on every document.**

Parties wishing to utilize electronic recording service may contact one of the vendors listed below for details and procedures:

Simplifile   www.simplifile.com

800-460-5657

Corporation Service Company    www.erecording.com

866-652-0111

Probate Office Clerks

Renee Luker
Chief Clerk
reneeluker7@gmail.com

Heather Sutton
Probate/Recording Clerk
heathersutton84@gmail.com

Hope Gates
Recording Clerk
hopegates70@gmail.com

Definitions of a Notary Public

A Notary Public is a public officer whose function it is

  1. To administer oaths; and
  2. To attest and certify by his/her signature and official seal, certain classes of documents, in order to give them credit and authenticity; and
  3. To take acknowledgments of deeds and other conveyances and certify the same; and
  4. To perform certain official acts, chiefly in commercial matters, such as the protesting of notes and bills, the notice of foreign drafts, and marine protests in cases of damage.

Requirements to be Appointed a Notary Public in Clarke County

  1. Must be a resident of Clarke County; and
  2. Must be a registered voter in Clarke County; and
  3. Must be capable of posting bond in the required amount.

Steps to be Appointed a Notary

  1. Complete notary public application;
  2. Applicant must take application to an insurance company to obtain a notary public bond of $25,000.00;
  3. Bond, application and $25.00 filing fee must be sent to Clarke County Probate Court.
  4. Once appointed, you may purchase your stamp and Notarial Seal from any office supply store or county newspaper office, such as the Clarke County Democrat or South Alabamian.

Please Remember!!

The office of Notary Public is a serious and responsible public office and should not be taken lightly. Abuse of the office or irresponsibility in the performance of notarial duties can result in grave consequences. If a Notary Public has doubts about the propriety of any action, he or she should seek competent professional advice before he or she acts.

Click here to Download the Notary Application (pdf)

You will need to complete the form and mail it to:
Probate Court
Clarke County
P.O. Box 10
Grove Hill, AL 36451

Clarke County District Attorney’s Office www.firstcircuitalda.org

Grove Hill Area Chamber of Commerce www.grovehillal.com

Grove Hill Arts Council www.grovehillartscouncil.com

Thomasville Times Newspaper www.thethomasvilletimes.com

Clarke County Museum www.clarkemuseum.com

Clarke County Democrat Newspaper www.clarkecountydemocrat.com

The South Alabamian Newspaper www.southalabamian.com

Thomasville Chamber of Commerce www.thomasvillealchamber.com/

Jackson Chamber of Commerce www.jacksonalabama.org

State Government

State of Alabama Official Website www.alabama.gov

Alabama Dept. Of Archives and History www.archives.state.al.us

Alabama Dept. Of Veterans Affairs www.va.state.al.us

Alabama Secretary of State www.sos.state.al.us

Alabama State Bar www.alabar.org

Alabama State Legislature www.legislature.state.al.us

Unclaimed Property (State Treasurer’s Office) www.treasury.state.al.us

Federal Government

U.S. Supreme Court www.supremecourtus.gov

Federal Election Commission www.fec.gov

Honorable Richard Shelby, U.S. Senator shelby.senate.gov

Honorable Bradley Byrne, U.S. Representative, 1st Con. District www.byrne.house.gov

Honorable Terri A. Sewell, U.S. Representative, 7th Con. District sewell.house.gov

Adoption Links

Alabama Dept. Of Human Resources www.adoptuskids.org/states/al

Alabama Post Adoption Connections/Children’s Aid Society www.childrensaid.org

Alabama Dept. Of Public Health www.adph.org

Heart Gallery www.heartgalleryalabama.com