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Probate

Probate is a legal proceeding in which a state court oversees the process of identifying a deceased person’s heirs, property, and valid debts. The goal is to see that the valid debts are paid and to distribute the remaining estate assets to the proper heirs. The process of actually identifying the heirs, property, and valid debts is done by the executor or administrator of the estate. If there is a will, the court normally appoints the person named in it as the executor. If there is no will, the court will usually appoint a relative or friend to act as administrator. The executor or administrator, usually working in conjunction with a probate attorney, will have the task of sorting out the estate.