Probate is the official proving of a will, as the valid and genuine last will and testament (original, not a photocopy) of a decedent by admitting the will to record in the Circuit Court Clerk's Office where he or she resided at his or her death. If the decedent died in a nursing home, then that person's legal residence is presumed to be where he or she resided prior to becoming a resident at such institution.

The term is also used to include the process of qualifying a person as an executor of a will or administrator where there is no will. If a decedent dies without a will the court appoints an individual to receive all assets (solely in the name of the decedent), receive all claims, pay all creditors and then distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with Virginia state law.