Probate court proceedings oversee the estate of a person who had a will and give authority to the executor. All will beneficiaries, including the person inheriting the land, are notified of probate proceedings and actions on the estate as these actions occur. Once the executor has authority, he can transfer the land's ownership to the person who was to receive it under the terms of the will. The executor usually can't transfer any estate assets before he is formally appointed by the court.
"Administration" is the term typically used to describe the process that occurs when the deceased did not leave a will. During estate administration, all the deceased's property is divided according to state intestacy laws, with spouses and children receiving shares first in most cases. A person with an interest in the estate--such as an heir--can file in court to be appointed as administrator. All heirs receive notice of the administration proceedings and actions taken on the estate. Once the administrator is appointed by the court, he can transfer ownership of the decedent's property.
A deed is a document used as proof of legal property ownership. Once the estate has an appointed executor or administrator, that person can have a deed prepared to transfer the land to the person who inherited it. An executor's deed is a specific type of deed, which an executor uses to transfer real estate to a beneficiary. The deed has the executor's name and the name of the deceased; it may also have the court case number and other information, such as when the person died. An administrator uses a similar instrument, known as an administrator's deed, to transfer real estate to another person. As with the executor's deed, the administrator's deed has information about the deceased person and the administrator's name. The executor or administrator has to sign the deed and have his signature notarized. Once the deed is ready, he files it in the county land records to complete the transfer of the land to the person who inherited it.
The person receiving the land may not have to pay transfer taxes when the deed is filed because he inherited the property instead of buying it. However, he still may have to pay property taxes or special local assessments already due on the land. He may become responsible for paying outstanding liens or mortgages on the property. Inherited land is also "as-is." The estate is usually not responsible for the condition the property is in when the person inherits it.