/proh"bayt/, n., adj., v., probated, probating.
1. Law. the official proving of a will as authentic or valid in a probate court.
2. an officially certified copy of a will so proved.
3. of or pertaining to probate or a probate court.
4. to establish the authenticity or validity of (a will).
5. Law. to put (an offender) on probation.
[1400-50; late ME probat < L probatum a thing approved, n. use of neut. ptp. of probare to test and find good; see PROBE, -ATE1]

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In law, the process of proving in a court (probate court) that an instrument is the valid last will and testament of a deceased person.

The term also refers broadly to the process of administering an estate. Unless it is contested or shown to contain obvious anomalies, a document purporting to be a will requires little authenticating proof for certification (admission to probate). Probate courts also often supervise the administration of estates by executors and oversee the guardianship of minors and others lacking capacity under the law.

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      in Anglo-American law, the judicial proceedings by which it is determined whether or not a paper purporting to be the last will of a deceased person is the legally valid last will. What appears to be a valid will may not be so: it may have been forged, not executed in the way required by law, signed by the testator while mentally incompetent or under duress, or subsequently revoked. If the document is held to be genuine and valid, it is admitted to probate; otherwise its admission is refused. Until it has been so admitted, it cannot be used for any legal purposes; in particular, the person nominated as executor cannot function, and the court must appoint an administrator of the estate.

      The idea that the genuineness and validity of a will should be investigated and determined in special proceedings was developed in England by the ecclesiastical courts, which in the Middle Ages had acquired jurisdiction over succession to personal property. No such idea had been worked out by the secular courts, which had jurisdiction over the descent of real property. In America, secular courts were set up to deal with probate matters, and in the 19th century their jurisdiction was extended to cover the problem of the validity of a will with respect to real property. The same step was taken in England in 1897, after jurisdiction had been transferred in 1857 from the ecclesiastical to the secular courts.

      Under the rules in the English courts, probate can be granted simply upon the presentation of a document presenting the outward appearance of a will properly executed. Such probate “in the common form” was revocable, however, if within 30 years doubts were raised as to the validity of the document, or if an interested party had entered a caveat (asked to have his objections heard) before the probate had been granted. In these cases the person interested in having the document admitted to probate had to prove it “in the solemn form.” Probate in the solemn form is a regular judicial proceeding in which the facts needed to establish the validity of the document must be proved, ordinarily through testimony by witnesses.

      The English pattern is also that of the other common-law parts of the Commonwealth and, basically, also that of the United States. Under the pattern prevailing in most states in the United States, the document purporting to be a will is admitted to probate in a special court, usually called the probate court. Proceedings require little proof but occasionally allow the adjudication of a limited range of objections. Any interested party, however, may have the probate revoked if he prevails in a will contest; this must be raised, usually in a court higher than the probate court, within a short period fixed by statute. In most states the courts acting in probate matters also supervise the administration and distribution of a deceased's estate by an executor, or administrator; in addition, they have jurisdiction over the guardianship of infants and the conservation of the estates of mentally incompetent persons.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • probate — pro·bate 1 / prō ˌbāt/ n [Latin probatum, neuter of probatus, past participle of probare to test, approve, prove] 1 a: the process of proving in a court of competent jurisdiction (as a probate court) that an instrument is the valid last will and… …   Law dictionary

  • probate — pro‧bate [ˈprəʊbeɪt, bt ǁ ˈproʊbeɪt] noun [uncountable] LAW the process used to establish that a will (= a statement saying who you want to have your money and property when you die) has been properly made out, according to the law: • All joint… …   Financial and business terms

  • Probate — Pro bate, a. Of or belonging to a probate, or court of probate; as, a probate record. [1913 Webster] {Probate Court}, or {Court of Probate}, a court for the probate of wills. {Probate duty}, a government tax on property passing by will. [Eng.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • probate — [prō′bāt; ] for n. [, ] Brit [, prōbit] n. [ME probat < L probatus, pp. of probare, to prove: see PROBE] 1. the act or process of proving before a duly authorized person that a document submitted for official certification and registration,… …   English World dictionary

  • Probate — Pro bate, n. [From L. probatus, p. p. of probare to prove. See {Prove}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Proof. [Obs.] Skelton. [1913 Webster] 2. (Law) (a) Official proof; especially, the proof before a competent officer or tribunal that an instrument offered …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Probate — Pro bate, v. t. To obtain the official approval of, as of an instrument purporting to be the last will and testament; as, the executor has probated the will. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Probate — (engl., spr. Probet), 1) die Prüfung überhaupt: bes. 2) die Prüfung u. Bestätigung des letzten Willens; daher P. Court (spr. P. Kohrt), der Gerichtshof für Testaments , Erbschafts u. Vormundschaftsangelegenheiten …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • probate — ► NOUN 1) the official proving of a will. 2) a verified copy of a will with a certificate as handed to the executors. ORIGIN Latin probatum something proved …   English terms dictionary

  • Probate — Not to be confused with Probation. Wills, trusts and estat …   Wikipedia

  • probate — Court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid; though in current usage this term has been expanded to generally refer to the legal process wherein the estate of a decedent is administered. Generally, the probate process… …   Black's law dictionary

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