How does Probate Court work?
The Probate Court oversees the distribution of a person's assets when he or she dies with a will or without a will (called "intestate"). Once someone (a spouse, child, sibling or parent, for example) files an application to open a probate estate, the Court appoints a Personal Representative to collect assets, pay bills, and distribute the remaining property or money to those named in the will or, if there is no will, to that person's "heirs at law."
The probate administration process takes at least four months and can take much longer, depending upon the complexity of the estate and how well the heirs are getting along. The costs generally start at between $2000 and $3000 and can go up from there, again depending upon the estate and the people involved.
The Probate Court also oversees the appointment of guardians and conservators for minor children and incapacitated adults.