Probate

The Probate Court handles guardianships of minors, guardianships of adults, conservatorships of the property of others, the revocation of guardianships, and the probating of the estate of a deceased individual by the personal representative (usually an executor named in a will).

When someone dies, their assets might move automatically to a new owner.  This happens where a beneficiary is named on an account, and in real estate with certain types of deeds.  But often an asset does not move automatically to a new owner, and the assets of someone who has passed away need to be transferred into the names of the heirs.  This involves the estate administration/probate process.

The estate administrator/executor will manage the decedent’s affairs, which in general involves paying off debts and collecting income, interest, and any amounts owed to the estate. It is extremely important that the estate's debts are paid off in the correct order, in order of priority.  Competent legal advice should be sought to ensure no debts are paid in an incorrect manner that would result in liability for the estate administrator.

After the estate’s debts are paid and its assets are collected, the executor will distribute what remains in accordance with the terms of the will (if there is a will; if there is no will, then the law gives guidance as to who gets what).