Probate is the process of finalizing an estate after a death. The probate court will oversee the process.
That is the main duty of the court. The actual process of disbursing the assets, locating heirs and managing the estate is up to the personal representative or executor. However, the court may have to step in to handle certain other duties.
If someone with an interest in the estate has a problem with the probate process, he or she may issue an objection with the court. The court would then hear the matter and make a ruling. This type of issue may include problems with the executor or the estate documents. It also includes contesting a will, which is trying to say it is not valid or a decision made in the will is not valid.
If there are lenders or others who have claims against the estate, the court will usually oversee the process of paying debts through the estate and ensuring all claims are valid. Debts will come out of the estate before any other claim, but the court may decide not to honor some debts.
The court will make the final ruling in a probate matter. The final step is to close the estate. Once this occurs all claims and matters become finalized. Only the court has the authority to close an estate once probate begins.
The court generally has a hands-off approach to probate and steps in only when needed. The court does have authority over the matter and can be an ally to the executor.