Probate is a court-controlled process that takes place after a person’s death. When a person passes away, they usually leave both possessions and obligations behind. However, family members cannot typically just start “taking care” of those possessions and obligations on behalf of the deceased without permission from a judge. Instead, a judge usually needs to order that a particular person has the authority to take care of duties related to bills, finances, taxes, and making sure possessions are given to those who stand to inherit them. The person taking on that role is called a Personal Representative or an Executor, and he or she has the authority to deal with these matters because a judge has given him or her that authority as part of the probate process. A person’s last will and testament will help guide the judge and the personal representative as to how to carry out the probate.

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