What is probate?

Probate is the legal process by which the courts oversee the transfer of assets from a decedent (person who has died) to their beneficiaries.  It involves:

  • Presenting the decedent's last will and testament to the court, to prove it is valid
  • Appointing a legal representative who will have the authority to carry out the administration of the estate
  • Identifying, securing, and appraising all property of the decedent
  • Paying any debts or taxes which may be due
  • Distributing the remaining assets according to the terms of the will

If there is a will, a person named as executor in the will is likely to be appointed as the legal representative of the estate.