A circuit court judge presides over probate proceedings.
The judge will rule on the validity of the decedent’s will, or if the decedent died intestate, and will consider evidence to confirm the identities of the decedent’s heirs as those who will receive the decedent’s probate estate.
If the decedent had a will that nominated a personal representative, the judge will also decide whether the person or institution nominated is qualified to serve in that position. If the nominated personal representative meets the statutory qualifications, the judge will issue ‘Letters of Administration,’ also referred to simply as “letters.” These “letters” are important evidence of the personal representative’s authority to administer the decedent’s probate estate.
If any questions or disputes arise while administering the decedent’s probate estate, the judge will hold a hearing as necessary to resolve the matter in question. The judge’s decision will be set forth in a written direction called an ‘order.’