probate

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probate

probate (prōˈbāt), in law, the certification by a court that a will is valid. Probate, which is governed by various statutes in the several states of the United States, is required before the will can take effect. The procedure requires that notification of a hearing be given to all persons who may possibly inherit the deceased's property. Lost wills and oral wills may also be probated in some states if proof of due execution is furnished. If the will is certified, the court will issue letters testamentary authorizing the executors to carry out the will's provisions. The judge sitting on a probate court is ordinarily called a surrogate.
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probate

1. the act or process of officially proving the authenticity and validity of a will
2. 
a. the official certificate stating a will to be genuine and conferring on the executors power to administer the estate
b. the probate copy of a will
3. (in the US) all matters within the jurisdiction of a probate court
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005