robert w. maher
Attorney-at-Law  · Partner with the Law Firm Dyer & Maher.
Probate

Probate is the legal process whereby a will is "proved" in a court and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased. The granting of probate is the first step in the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under a will. A probate court or a surrogate decides the legal validity of a testator's (person's) will and grants its approval, also known as granting probate, to the executor. The probated will then becomes a legal instrument that may be enforced by the executor in the law courts if necessary. A probate also officially appoints the executor (or personal representative), generally named in the will, as having legal power to dispose of the testator's assets in the manner specified in the testator's will.

If the decedent dies intestate — without leaving a will — the court appoints a Personal Representative to distribute the decedent's property according to the laws of Descent and Distribution. These laws direct the distribution of assets based on hereditary succession.

In general, the probate process involves collecting the decedent's assets, liquidating liabilities, paying necessary taxes, and distributing property to heirs. Probate procedures are governed by state law which varies from state to state and from time to time.