Probate refers to the legal process in which courts can validate a deceased person’s will and name an executor to handle the transfer of assets to beneficiaries.
Understanding how probate works in Pennsylvania can help executors administer estates. Furthermore, learning about probate can be useful in estate planning.
If the deceased person created a will, the executor they named should file the appropriate paperwork with the court and pay any filing fees. In cases with no will, a representative of the deceased individual can take on the work of administering the estate. Spouses and adult children often act as executors. The court should then issue documents that grant the executor the ability to act on behalf of the estate. Executors are responsible for notifying beneficiaries and loved ones of the deceased. Furthermore, the executor should publish a legal notice in local newspapers to inform the general public. The executor is also in charge of transferring property to heirs and settling debts and taxes.
Exemptions to probate
It is possible to transfer some assets outside of the probate process. For example, assets stored in a living trust are also easy to distribute to beneficiaries. Furthermore, a spouse of a deceased person can obtain smaller cash assets, jointly owned real estate, life insurance payments and unclaimed wages without going through probate. Finally, if an estate has a value below $50,000, Pennsylvania allows the executor to undergo a simplified process that is more affordable and efficient.
Many executors in Pennsylvania must undergo the probate process to administer the estate of a deceased loved one. However, there are assets and estates with notable exceptions to regular probate proceedings.