Probate is the court proceeding to administer an estate when one passes away. There are several steps to the probate process, which causes the length and cost of an otherwise avoidable ordeal. First, the court appoints a person to be in charge of the decedent’s estate. This person is called the personal representative. The personal representative gathers the decedent’s assets; has the decedent’s assets appraised by the probate referee; pays the decedent’s appropriate bills; he or she may sell certain assets of the decedent’s assets, if necessary; files the decedent’s final state and federal tax returns; prepares an accounting to be reviewed by the court; and, upon approval by the court, distributes the decedent’s assets to the appropriate persons or entities. All of this is done under the court’s strict supervision.