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The ins and outs of probate in Pennsylvania

When a loved one dies, taking care of his or her estate can prove to be a challenging task. If a valid will exists, the state of Pennsylvania will allow assets to be distributed in accordance with the information contained within the will. Without a will or any other estate planning documents in place, the estate may be subject to state probate laws.

How does probate work? A personal representative of the deceased will be responsible for ensuring all of the deceased's qualifying debts are paid and his or her assets are distributed to beneficiaries. If the decedent failed to name a representative, the court will assign someone the duty.

There are two types of probate recognized in Pennsylvania: expedited and formal. An expedited probate proceeding may be used for small estates. In this state, this is for estates with values of $50,000 or less. Estates with greater values may need to go through the formal probate process. Probate may be skipped entirely if:

  • Assets were placed in a living trust
  • Assets were jointly owned
  • Accounts list designated beneficiaries
  • Accounts have transfer or payable-on-death clauses

The probate process can be confusing, especially for anyone who has never been through it before. There is a lot of ground to cover, and the legal issues that may arise can slow the process. Thankfully, probate is not something anyone has to go through alone. Legal counsel can help family members and personal representatives get through the Pennsylvania probate process as quickly as possible and without error.

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