What is a Probate Proceeding?

In a probate proceeding, the court oversees the process of identifying the deceased person's property, paying any debts, identifying the proper heirs, and distributing the property to them. Most of the actual work is done by a personal representative, who is usually a relative or friend of the deceased person, with the assistance of an attorney and often an accountant and possibly one or more appraisers. The generic term "personal representative" has replaced such terms as executor, executrix, administrator and administratrix for the purposes of these FAQs.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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