Probate is the court-supervised legal procedure that determines the validity of your will (if you have one). The probate judge supervises the gathering and inventory of your estate assets, payment of debts, taxes and administrative costs, and the distribution of your remaining assets to your beneficiaries (if you have a will) or if not-to next of kin as determined by state law. Probate of a smaller estate after one’s death may be a simple process and not costly. However, probate of larger estates can involve significant time and costs. With proper planning, needless expenses can be reduced.