"Probate" refers to the legal process in which a person dies, and their estate is distributed under court supervision. This person is referred to as the decedent. Probate may be used to determine the legal validity of the decedent's will, or to correctly distribute the estate's assets to any beneficiaries named in the will. It is also used to establish a plan for paying off any outstanding taxes and/or debts owed by the decedent's estate.
Probate court refers to a type of court responsible for handling matters involving:
The probate of wills;
Estate administration; and
guardianships and conservatorships.
Such courts largely oversee the distribution of a decedent's assets, according to their will and other estate administration. Probate courts differ from traditional courts in that they narrowly hear cases involving very specific types of law.