Helping You Understand The Probate Process

There is much confusion about the probate process, and some unwarranted concern. Certain parties in the public, the legal profession, and marketers of trusts warn probate should be avoided at all costs. Among the fears are the process takes a very long time, fees and taxes will be exorbitant, and one will have to deal with lawyers, possible litigation, and a court system that is not user-friendly. In some states the process is indeed longer and more costly than here in Pennsylvania.

Wills And Probate

Court supervision of the handling of one's estate is meant to ensure debts are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to the proper beneficiaries. There is no urgent need to avoid it. However, an estate planning attorney should be consulted in advance, and should be included in administration of the estate, to assist the personal representative.

The tools offered to remove property and assets from the estate (and avoid probate) generally will not reduce the time necessary for probate. It is the handling of taxes and debts that does take time, and these are not hastened by the use of trusts. Certain prepackaged boxes or notebooks of legal forms benefit those marketing them more than beneficiaries or one planning his or her estate.

The Process

1. If there is a will, it must be filed at a county Register of Wills.

2. If the will designates an executor, that person is officially appointed.

3. If there is no will, the court appoints someone as administrator. (The executor or administrator is also called the personal representative).

4. Tasks the personal representative must handle include:

  • Gathering all the estate's assets
  • Handling the assets and liabilities of the estate, and distributions to heirs and/or beneficiaries.
  • Filing tax returns and paying taxes
  • Any will disputes/contests
  • Paying debts of the decedent
  • Procedural requirements of the process
  • Sale of real estate
  • Paying burial and funeral costs
  • Operating the decedent's business/winding up business affairs

Contact An Attorney For Help With Wills And Probate

These can be overwhelming without the assistance of an experienced attorney. Bowe, Lisella & Bowe is an established and respected law firm with more than 65 years' experience and a dedication to clients and community.

We offer free initial consultations on many matters, are available for weekday, evening and weekend appointments, and are committed to charging reasonable and affordable rates. Call us at our downtown Tamaqua offices at 570-225-0032. You may also contact us online.