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Probate is the process of getting a court stamped Certificate that says that the executor is officially appointed. What this does is pass all the liability for the estate onto the Executor. Most of the gate keepers that hold your assets such as banks, wealth management companies, Property Registrar, will not transfer assets to your estate until this Certificate is received. They are afraid that they will be responsible of it is a fraudulent/wrong will or if someone is going to contest the estate. Once Executor has the certificate, all the liability is on the Executor to make sure that the Will is valid and that the beneficiaries get their proper share. 

Probate is not always necessary. It depends not only on the assets in the estate - but which gatekeeper (bank etc.) is holding them. It's up to the gatekeeper whether they require the Certificate or not.

The Certificate of Appointment protects the Executor in some ways.