One of the first obstacles which must be tackled in determining when an estate needs to be probated, is understanding the basic terminology associated with estate planning. Probate is simply the system of supervision provided by the court for distributing the decedent's property at death. Paramount in understanding the functions of probate, is understanding that each state has its own probate laws. Some states follow the Uniform Probate Code(UPC), and some follow derivatives of common law. The information shared here is not intended to substitute actual research of your state's laws concerning probate, but is instead intended to give a general idea of how things work with probating an estate. The need to probate changes depending on whether or not a person dies with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate). The person who has passed is often referred to as a decedent or testator if they had a will.