Probate Court Definition

A specialized court or division of a state trial court that considers cases concerning the distribution of deceased persons' property and the appointment of guardians for children or adults who need care and supervision. Called "surrogate's court" in New York and several other states, this court normally examines the authenticity of a will or, if a person dies without a will (intestate), figures out who inherits under state law. It then oversees a procedure to pay the deceased person's debts and to distribute the assets to the proper inheritors. (See also: probate)