People often refer to the entire Estate settlement proceeding as "the probate." Actually, "Probate" is the process by which the court determines that a Will is properly signed and witnessed and that the person signing the Will was of sound mind and acting of free will when the document was signed. When an individual dies, with or without a Will, and leaves property to be distributed, it is necessary for the court to appoint either a personal representative nominated specifically in the Will, or an administrator, if no Will exists. The duties and responsibilities of a personal representative or an administrator (formerly called an executor/executrix) are generally the same. The term "Personal Representative" will be used herein to mean either a personal representative or administrator.

This information was prepared as a public service by Mullavey, Prout, Grenley & Foe LLP. It contains general information and is not intended to apply to any specific situation. The information is very broadly and simply stated. There are a number of exceptions and specific rules that apply to your particular situation and lead to a different result. If you need legal advice or have questions, you should consult a lawyer.