What is it? Why does every attorney tell you, you should avoid it?

The short answer is, Probate Court is where state proceedings are held to determine who is entitled to the assets/property of someone who died. Assets will be inventoried and appraised and all this information will be submitted to the court and is public record for all to see and read.

Yes, Your business will be out in these streets and we all know TMZ is watching.


  • Estate: all the money, property, and any other asset owned by or that they have a controlling interest in at death.

  • Decedent: The person who passed away (with or without a will) whose estate is going through probate.

  • Executor or personal representative: The person in charge of carrying out the instructions in the will.

  • Administrator: A court-appointed executor, if someone dies without leaving a will.

  • Intestate: A case where someone dies without a will.

  • Testate: A case where someone died with a will.

  • Intestacy: State laws determining how to distribute such estates.

  • Letters testamentary: A document from a probate court authorizing the executor to start carrying out the instructions left in a will.

  • Notice of probate and notice to creditors: Notices that the executor has to submit, in writing, to the heirs (“interested parties”) and creditors. Everything is public record in a probate case. This is why TMZ knows so much about stars who have passed away with or without a will but nothing about stars who had Trusts.

  • Small estate affidavit: Documents or processes that can allow you to skip or shorten certain aspects of probate (i.e. distribute property without a lengthy court process). Estates below a certain value (depending on your state) are eligible for this.

What's The Probate Process?