Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1856PRO'BATE, noun [Latin probatus, probo, to prove.]
1. The probate of a will or testament is the proving of its genuineness and validity, or the exhibition of the will to the proper officer, with the witnesses if necessary, and the process of determining its validity, and the registry of it, and such other proceedings as the laws prescribe, as preliminary to the execution of it by the executor.
2. The right or jurisdiction of proving wills. In England, the spiritual court has the probate of wills. In the United States, the probate of wills belongs to a court of civil jurisdiction established by law, usually to a single judge, called a judge of probate or a surrogate.
3. Proof. [Not used.]
PROBATE OF A WILL.
1. The proof before an officer appointed by law, that an instrument offered to be recorded is the act of the person whose last will and testament it purports to be. Upon proof being so made and security being given when the laws of the state require such security, the officer grants to the executors or administrators cum testamento annexo, when there been adopted, but provision is made for perare no executors, letters testamentary, or of administration.
2. The officer who takes such probate is variously denominated; in some states he is called judge of probate, in others register, and surrogate in others. Vide 11 Vin. Ab. 5 8 12 Vin. Ab. 126 2 Supp. to Ves. jr. 227 1 Salk. 302; 1 Phil. Ev. 298; 1 Stark. Ev. 231, note, and the cases cited in the note, and also, 12 John. R. 192; 14 John. R. 407 1 Edw. R. 266; 5 Rawle, R. 80 1 N. & McC. 326; 1 Leigh, R. 287; Penn. R. 42; 1 Pick. R. 114; 1 Gallis. R. 662, as to the effect of a probate on real and personal property,
3. In England, the ecclesiastical courts, which take the probate of wills, have no jurisdiction of devises of land. In a trial at common law, therefore, the original will must be produced, and the probate of a will is no evidence.
4. This rule has been somewhat changed in some of the states. In New York it has petuating the evidence of a will. 12 John. Rep. 192; 14 John. R, 407. In Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Michigan, the probate is conclusive of its validity, and a will cannot be used in evidence till proved. 1 Pick. R. 114; l Gallis. R. 622 1 Mich. Rev. Stat. 275. In Pennsylvania, the probate is not conclusive as to lands, and, although not allowed by the Register's court, it may be read in evidence. 5 Rawle's R. 80. In North Carolina, the will must be proved de novo in the court of common pleas, though allowed by the ordinary. 1 Nott & McCord, 326. In New Jersey, probate is necessary, but it is not conclusive. Penn. R. 42.
5. The probate is a judicial act, and while unimpeached, authorizes debtors of the deceased in paying the debts they owed him, to the executors although the will may, have been forged. 3 T. R. 125; see 8 East, Rep. 187. Vide Letters testamentary.
Black’s Law Dictionary, 1st Edition, 1891
The Century Dictionary, an Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language, 1895
Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edition, 1999
1. To admit (a will) to proof.
2. To administer (a decedent’s estate).
3. To grant probation to (a criminal); to reduce (a sentence) by means of probation.
Jurisdiction over matters relating to wills, settlement of decedents’ estates, and (in some states) guardianship and the adoption of minors.
A judge having jurisdiction over probate, inheritance, guardianships, and the like. – Also termed judge of probate; surrogate; register.
WEX Legal Dictionary
The judicial procedure by which a testamentary document is established to be a valid will.
Unless set aside, the probate of a will is conclusive upon the parties to the proceedings, and others who had notice of the proceedings, on all questions of testamentary capacity, the absence of fraud or undue influence, and due execution of the will. Probate does not preclude inquiry into the validity of the will's provisions or on their proper construction or legal effect.
A probate court is a court of limited jurisdiction that hears matters surrounding a person's death. For example, probate courts oversee the distribution of dead peoples' assets according to their wills and direct the distribution of dead peoples' assets if they die without a will.
Some probate courts also hear petitions to declare people incompetent and oversee guardians or conservators. Other jurisdictions leave these matters to family courts.
Probate courts are governed by state and local law. Some jurisdictions have surrogate courts instead of probate courts.