Probate and Estate Administration

Compassionate Support at a Difficult Time

When a loved one passes, it’s hard enough dealing with the grief and loss. Unfortunately, the legal and financial complexities that accompany probate and estate administration can add stress to an already difficult time. Let Highpoint Law Offices guide you through the process so that you can get it done efficiently and completely.

What is the Probate or Estate Administration Process in Pennsylvania?

When someone passes away in Pennsylvania, their estate typically goes through probate administration. Although each estate is different, common steps include:

  • Filing a petition with the probate court.
  • Notice to heirs or, if no Will exists, statutory heirs under state laws of intestate succession.
  • Appointment of an executor (in the case of a Will) or administrator for the estate.
  • Inventory and appraisal of estate assets.
  • Paying all valid debts to lawful creditors.
  • Payment of estate taxes, if applicable.
  • Sale of estate assets, if applicable.
  • Final distribution of assets to heirs.

This can be a short or lengthy process, depending on factors like the following:

  • The estate’s size and complexity.
  • The local probate court’s rules and schedule.
  • Whether or not your loved one left a Will.
  • Whether they owned property outside the state, making an ancillary probate process necessary.

Will contests and creditor disputes can delay the settling of the estate and add significantly to the costs. This is one of the reasons why executors and administrators should seek advice and representation from a Pennsylvania estate planning attorney who understands the challenges involved and can help overcome them.

Does Probate Administer All Property of the Deceased?

Not all of it. If your loved one placed their assets in a living trust, no court involvement is generally necessary, as the successor trustee will oversee proper distribution of all assets. In addition, certain assets are structured to bypass probate. They include:

  • Property that the person owned jointly with someone else. If there is a right of survivorship, the surviving owner receives the property.
  • Life insurance policies.
  • Bank accounts with payable-on-death (POD) designations.
  • Retirement accounts such as IRA and 401(k) accounts with designated beneficiaries.

Are You Facing Probate or Estate Administration Issues?

If you’ve been appointed the executor or administrator of an estate, you’re going to have a lot of questions and worries. Let Highpoint Law Offices help you address them and manage your duties so that the estate is settled as efficiently as possible. To schedule a consultation, please contact us.