Estate probate is the procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid, though in its current usage the term has been expanded to include the process in which a deceased person's assets, properties, rights and responsibilities are disposed of in accordance with the terms of said deceased person's will. Simply put, probate generally refers to all matters and proceedings which relate to the estate of a person who dies with a will ( i.e. , testate).
"Administration" of an estate generally refers to all matters and proceedings which relate to the estate of a person who dies without a will ( i.e. , intestate).
Regardless of whether a person dies with a will or without a will, the Surrogate's Court of the county where the deceased person was domiciled at the time of his or her death shall have jurisdiction over all probate and/or administration proceedings.
In the case of someone dying with a will, probate proceedings are instituted in Surrogate's Court to facilitate the appointment of an executor, normally a person specifically designated in the will, to help effectuate the will.
Similarly, where a person dies without a will, the Surrogate's Court will appoint an administrator who will act in the same capacity as an executor and have virtually all of the same duties and responsibilities of an executor, with the one notable exception being that an administrator will assist the court in deciding how to dispose of the decedent's assets and property in accordance with the rules of intestate succession.
Although probate and administration petitions can be obtained and prepared without the assistance of an attorney, it can be a complicated and sometimes frustrating process. Accordingly, you may wish to consult with the attorneys and support staff at Egan & Golden, LLP.