As probate lawyers, our clients often have the need to transfer assets quickly from the estate of a deceased person. Frequently, there is a real estate deal that cannot close until probate has been opened. Consequently, it is important to understand the three functions of the probate process. First, probate determines who is legally authorized to act on behalf of an estate. Second, probate provides a mechanism for creditors of the decedent to be paid. Third, probate distributes estate assets to the heirs, either in kind or in cash from the proceeds after the sale of an estate asset. In other words, the probate process allows third parties to rely on transfers out of an estate, while assuring that creditors are repaid and heirs receive their share of the estate.