Probate involves the administration and transfer of a deceased person’s assets to his or her heirs and/or legatees. If a valid will has been previously executed by the decedent, the estate is “testate”, and assets under the will are transferred to the decedent’s legatees. If the decedent did not execute a will or if the will is found to be invalid, the estate is “intestate” and the assets are transferred to the decedent’s heirs.
If an executor has been appointed under the will, the executor should file the will with the probate court within thirty (30) days after the decedent’s date of death. After the will is filed, the executor should petition to the court to be officially appointed as executor of the estate.
The executor of an estate collects and manages assets under the will. The executor transfers the assets to the estate’s beneficiaries and pays any debts of the deceased from estate assets. The executor also provides a detailed accounting to the estate's beneficiaries and closes the estate with the probate court.
If the decedent died without a will, a person (normally the decedent’s surviving spouse or child) can petition to the court to be appointed as administrator of the estate. Once appointed, the administrator has similar powers and responsibilities as an executor.