It is important for people to take care of their finances properly. When they pass, a proper estate plan can help to continue the correct usage of their assets.

In order to execute the estate plan, the probate process is necessary in many instances. Understanding the probate process, particularly when there is a will in place, can be beneficial in setting up a successful estate.

What is probate?

In short, probate is the process that ensures the estate distribution is in accordance with the law and the wishes of the estate holder. This includes a few different phases:

  • Assessing the estate
  • Paying off all taxes and any debts
  • Distributing assets to designated beneficiaries

Along with fulfilling the necessary duties to complete each phase, the distributing party must handle the estate in accordance with Pennsylvania’s estate laws. When there is a will in place, there are additional regulations.

How does a will fit into the process?

A will is one of the most common components of a proper estate plan. Though the courts still distribute an estate without an estate plan, it is in accordance with the state’s laws regarding intestacy rather than the wishes of the estate holder. Therefore, a will can be critical for an estate holder who has specific ideas for his or her assets. It is critical that the will be in accordance with the law. This will include it being in writing and signed by the will holder and the appropriate witnesses.

The will can cover various aspects; along with assets, the will can also denote caretakers for dependents and make other designations, such as naming an executor. The executor is in charge of bringing the estate plan to fruition through the probate process. The probate process does have several phases, but it does not have to be confusing or intimidating.