Where is probate handled?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Probate of an estate is usually handled by a court located in the same county and state where the deceased lived at the time of his or her death.

If the county is too small to have its own probate court, there may be a court in a neighboring county that will have jurisdiction or jurisdiction may be given to another court, like the county court. Every state has some court that has the jurisdiction to handle probate matters, but not every state calls this court the same thing.

For example, in New York the probate court is known as the Surrogate’s Court, while in California the Probate Division of the Superior Court has the responsibility to deal with probate matters.

Click here to find out what the probate court is called in your state.

A probate court has the power to distribute all of the deceased’s personal property, which is everything but real property, such as money, stocks and bonds, insurance policies, investment assets, vehicles, jewelry, artwork, clothing, and all personal items. It also has the power to distribute real property, land and buildings, that is located in that state. It does not have jurisdiction over real property located in another state.

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