Purpose of Probate

What Is Probate?

A home, money, and the judge's gavelProbate is a legal process of proving a person’s will to be valid and supervising the distribution the estate’s assets. The word probate is derived from the Latin verb “probatio” which means to prove. During the probate process, your Personal Representative, along with his or her attorney, will petition the court to prove your will is valid. If proven valid, the Probate Court will supervise a series of legal processes to distribute your assets. The exact process varies from state to state.

In the final step of the probate process, the Personal Representative, along with his or her attorney, will file a Petition with the court requesting approval for final distribution of the remaining estate assets.

Once approved by the court, the estate’s assets are distributed to the named beneficiaries. Afterward, something commonly called a Declaration for Final Discharge is often filed with the court to request the closing of the estate.

Common Legal Processes Supervised
by The Probate Court

  • Issuing Public Notice of Petition / Estate being opened
  • Mailing notices to persons entitled to receive notice (including known creditors)
  • Obtaining and filing a bond (in limited circumstances)
  • Preparing an inventory of assets and filing reports with court
  • Obtaining appraisals for certain assets to establish value, if necessary
  • Paying expenses
  • Paying off debts
  • Filing tax returns
  • Filing accounting records with the court (in some circumstances)
  • Petitioning the court for approval of final distribution of assets
  • Filing declaration for final discharge (closing the estate)

Discover Statutes In Your State


Wills are subject to challenge. Any person with an interest (such as a disinherited child) in the distribution of the estate can challenge the validity of the will. The usual basis for these challenges are incapacity, undue influence and fraud (will is a fake). If a judge believes that the will was a product of any of these issues, it will be declared invalid and estate will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws. A substantial percentage of all wills challenged are declared invalid.

In a Word, Probate = Uncertainty

That uncertainty can lead to unnecessary exposure that could affect you and your family, both emotionally and financially.

Watch This Informational Video to Learn More!