- proving the authenticity of the deceased person’s will
- appointing someone to handle the deceased person’s affairs
- identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
- paying debts and taxes
- identifying heirs, and
- distributing the deceased person’s property according to the will or, if there is no will, according to state law.
Formal probate is a costly, time-consuming process that is best avoided if possible. Most states now offer simplified probate procedures for estates of relatively small value. (See also: administrator, executor, personal representative)