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Pennsylvania Probate

Pennsylvania Probate

In Pennsylvania, the probate process involves several steps:

  1. Opening an Estate, Notification and Advertising: The probate process begins when a Petition for Grant of Letters is filed with the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent resided, Once the petition is filed, the Personal Representative must send notification to all heirs and beneficiaries named in the will and certify that notice has been sent. He/she will also need to advertise in two publications with distribution in the area where the estate was opened.
  2. Marshalling and Securing Assets: It is the Personal Representative’s responsibility to ascertain, take control of, and secure the assets of the estate until they can be properly distributed to the heirs/beneficiaries. Only assets owned solely by the decedent, without a joint owner or beneficiary designation, will belong to the estate.
  3. Payment of Debts and Expenses: Before distributing assets to beneficiaries, the Personal Representative/Administrator must pay off any outstanding debts of the estate.
  4. Inheritance Tax Return, Inventory & Appraisement: The Personal Representative or Administrator will compile an inventory of the decedent’s assets and an Inheritance Tax Return that will be filed with the Register of Wills.
  5. Distribution of Assets: Before distributions are made, the personal representative typically provides the heirs/beneficiaries with an informal account of the assets and debts and may enter into a settlement agreement with the heirs/beneficiaries. Thereafter, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or intestate succession laws if there is no will.
  6. Closing the Estate: The estate can be closed only after all Court filings have been made, debts and expenses paid, and assets distributed to heirs. The estate is formally closed by filing a status report with the Register of Wills indicating that the administration is complete. Once the court approves the final accounting and all assets have been distributed, the estate can be closed.

The attorneys at Zacharia Brown will compassionately walk you through the process of Probate, Inheritance Tax Return Preparation and Family Settlement. We can also connect you with a variety of vetted professionals who focus on assisting individuals through these difficult times including house cleanout, Realtors, moving companies, professional executor services, accountants and financial advisors.