Probate Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Probate, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Probate?

It is a process of proving the genuineness and validity of the will in the court generally known as probate court. The will of the descendant ( dead) is sent to the probate court who manages the distribution, validates the will, collects the assets, administer it by the way of paying taxes and registering in the name of the heir, all this being the process of validating the will.

History and Meaning of Probate

Probate is a Latin term that means "to prove". In the legal sense, probate refers to the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, which involves proving the validity of the will in court. The probate court oversees the distribution of the deceased person's assets and ensures that any outstanding debts, taxes, and expenses are settled before the remaining assets are passed on to the beneficiaries named in the will.

The concept of probate dates back to ancient Roman law, which required the confirmation of a deceased person's will in court before their assets could be distributed. In modern times, the probate process varies by jurisdiction but typically involves a series of legal procedures that can take several months or even years to complete.

Examples of Probate

  1. John's father passed away, and he was named the executor of his estate. John had to go through probate court to validate his father's will and distribute the assets among the beneficiaries.

  2. Mary's aunt left a will stating that her estate should be donated to charity. The probate court oversaw the process of validating the will and making sure that the assets were distributed according to the aunt's wishes.

  3. David's mother passed away without a will, so her estate had to go through the probate process to determine how her assets would be distributed among her heirs.

Legal Terms Similar to Probate

  1. Estate planning – the process of making arrangements for the management and distribution of one's assets after death.
  2. Trust administration – the legal process of managing and distributing assets held in a trust after the death of the trust's grantor.
  3. Intestate – refers to a person who dies without a valid will, in which case their estate must be distributed according to the laws of the state.