What Happens During A Probate Court Hearing?

When someone passes away, the probate court must settle their estate. It’s up to the executor of the will to take care of this. Still, in some cases, if an executor can’t be found or isn’t suitable, the court will appoint an administrator to handle the assets. That is until they can pass their assets to their rightful beneficiaries. Suppose you’re facing probate court as an executor or as a family member wanting to be an administrator. In that case, this article will outline what you can expect at your first probate court hearing.

Probate Court: Definition

Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. A probate court is a court that oversees the distribution of a deceased person’s assets. The court ensures that the representative pays the person’s debts and that they distribute the remaining assets according to their will if they have one. If the deceased person didn’t have a will, the court should provide another way to grant probate.

The probate process can be long and complicated. However, it’s essential to go through it properly to ensure that the court and the executor carry out the deceased person’s wishes.

Steps In The Process of Probate Court Hearing

Here are the steps involved in a probate court hearing:

1. Filing An Application With The Probate Court

After a person dies, their estate must go through the probate process. The first step in this process is to apply to the probate court. There are three possible scenarios under this step:

- An Application For Probate: In the will of the deceased, the nominated executor can complete the application filing. The executor is responsible for carrying out the deceased person’s wishes, usually by paying debts and dividing property. The executor must handle the estate’s assets appropriately and according to the will.

There may be cases where the person chosen as the primary executor would like to step down from such an appointment. In this scenario, a backup executor can replace the primary executor under the conditions that (a) the primary executor renounced his assignment and b) the deceased mentioned the nomination of the backup executor in their will.

- An Application for Letters of Administration With Will: Suppose there are no executors nominated in the will or it has changed for some reason and the will named no executor. Any of the beneficiaries can designate themselves as an administrator. In this situation, they must file an Application for Letters of Administration with Will so the courts can grant probate.

- An Application for Letters of Administration - No Will: In case there’s no will left at all, a court of law can still grant a person the right to be the deceased’s estate’s administrator. They must file an Application for Letters of Administration without Will to do this.

2. Lodging The Necessary Documents With The Supreme Court

For the Supreme Court to grant you administration over the deceased’s assets, it’s mandatory to submit the necessary documents with them. The list of common documents for submission includes the following:

- Originating application (if you’re the nominated executor) or originating letters of administration with or without a will (if you’re applying as an administrator)
- Grant of probate or letters of administration with or without a will (depending on the nature of your application)
- Affidavit of application (for probate or administration with a will or no will)
- Affidavit of Search
- Will (if applicable)
- Other documents

3. Granting Of Probate

This is the last step in the probate court hearing process. Once the court reviews the documents and finds them satisfactory, then probate shall be granted to the applicant.

Now, the executor or administrator can access the estate and administer it according to how the decedent would have wanted it if they were alive.

How Long Do Probate Court Hearings Take?

It generally takes three to six weeks for the court to review an application for probate or letters of administration. Upon review, if the court finds all submitted documents satisfactory, then the grant of probate can be immediately released to the executor.

In some cases, however, requisition occurs. For example, this happens when the court has questions about lodged documents. Applicants are thus recommended to get the help of experts to minimize the possibility of rejection.

There are many ways to find a probate lawyer. First, you can ask friends or family if they know of any good lawyers in the area. You can also look online for lawyer directories that specialize in probate law.


As mentioned, probate court hearings can be complicated and involve a lot of paperwork. That said, it’s essential to understand the details of your case and take action as soon as possible. 

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Posted - 07/06/2022