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Probate Court is a court found in some jurisdictions which is primarily concerned with the proper distribution of the assets of a decedent.

Probate Court exists to determine the validity of wills, enforce the provisions of valid wills, to prevent malfeasance by executors and administrators of estates, and to provide for an equitable distribution of the assets of persons who die intestate (without a valid will).

Probate Courts may also deal with conservatorships, guardianships, name changes, marriages, and adoptions.

The probate court can be petitioned by interested parties in an estate, such as when a beneficiary feels that an estate is being mishandled.

The court has the authority to compel the executor to give an account of his actions.The judge of a probate court is sometimes known by another name, in accordance with the jurisdiction's historical tradition.


What is Probate? At death, your will goes through probate. Probate simply means the process by which your last will is determined to be your final dispositive statement and which confirms the appointment of the person or institution you have named to administer your estate.

The term "probate" is also used in the larger sense of probating your estate. In this sense, probate means the process by which assets are gathered, applied to pay debts, taxes and expenses of administration, and distributed to those designated as beneficiaries in the will.

The executor or personal representative named in the will is in charge of this process, and probate provides an orderly method for administration of the estate.

The executor is held accountable by the beneficiaries (and sometimes is supervised formally by a probate court).

The executor is entitled to a reasonable fee or commission. Probate law generally encourages or provides for partial distribution during the period of administration; assets may generally be distributed in kind rather than sold during this time.

The tax laws generally focus the responsibility for death tax filings and payments on the executor under a will.

Thus, the choice of an executor is an important one.The basic job of administration and accounting for assets must be done whether the estate is handled by an executor in probate or probate is avoided.

In the recent past, lawyers and other professionals have advocated the use of probate avoidance techniques (including revocable trusts) in states where the probate process was perceived as being too slow and too costly.

Many states have simplified or streamlined their probate processes over the years. In such states there is now less reason to employ such probate avoidance techniques.

Is probate necessary?If the person who died did not have any property to transfer, probate is usually not necessary.

The deceased person’s survivors may decide to open a probate if there are debts owed or if there is a need to set a deadline for creditors to file claims.

When there is property to transfer the probate process also provides for the distribution of the estate's property to the decedent's heirs.