Probate is a court proceeding that confirms the validity of a will and settles the estate of the person who died (the "decedent") in accordance with the terms of the will.
Filing the Probate
The person named executor by the decedent in his will, files the probate action with the court and requests authority to act on behalf of the decedent's estate. If the decedent didn't name an executor, the court will appoint one.
Once the probate is filed, the executor will collect all the assets of the estate and provide the court with an inventory, listing each item and its estimated value.
Debts and Claims
The executor will determine what debts are owed out of the estate proceeds, and pay them. He/she will also satisfy any claims against the estate and any taxes the decedent may have owed.
The executor, his attorney, if he has one, and any court costs related to the probate are also paid out of the proceeds of the estate.
Once the assets are determined and debts and claims have been settled, the executor will make distribution of the remaining assets of the estate as the will specifies. When this is complete, the executor will ask the court to close the probate.