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3 things to remember about Pennsylvania probate

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2023 | Probate

Many testators put a lot of effort into creating estate plans specifically because they hope to avoid probate court. The average person who expects to inherit from an estate may worry about whether probate court requirements will delay receipt of their inheritance or possibly diminish what they ultimately receive.

As a result, both those preparing to manage probate proceedings as a fiduciary and those expecting a windfall after a loved one’s death should keep in mind the three facts below about probate proceedings in Pennsylvania.

Not all estates pass through probate court

People can create very thorough estate plans that leave little question about who should receive specific property from their estates. Provided that there are chosen beneficiaries for every asset solely in a decedent’s name, their estate may not need to go through probate court at all. However, estates can still end up in probate court if someone challenges either the estate plan or the actions taken by the personal representative administering the estate.

Probate involves resolving responsibilities

The person tasked with estate administration accepts a lot of responsibility when they take on that role. They may have to attend court, communicate with creditors and distribute assets. They may also have some personal financial responsibility if they mismanage estate resources. Tax obligations and creditor claims take priority over beneficiary rights during estate administration, and those that inappropriately distribute assets without settling responsibilities first may end up personally accountable for those unpaid taxes and debts.

Probate can take more than a year

Beneficiaries sometimes expect to gain access to and control over inherited property as soon as someone dies. However, estate administration takes months to complete and may require more than a year if formal oversight from the probate courts is necessary. Between the timeline for notifying creditors and allowing them to make claims in court and the need to file income tax returns to pay taxes on the sale of assets at an estate sale, there can be numerous steps that occur well after someone’s death. Often, the final distribution of assets will not take place until after someone settles all of the decedent’s financial responsibilities.

It is important for a person tasked with estate administration to take the appropriate steps in a timely manner, and it is also necessary for beneficiaries to be patient and reasonable in their expectations. Learning more about what typically occurs during Pennsylvania probate proceedings can help people reduce anxiety and conflict related to estate administration when a loved one dies.