Philadelphia Probate Lawyer
Philadelphia Probate Lawyer
Our Philadelphia Probate Attorneys Help Clients With Probate in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
At Scott Counsel, P.C., our Philadelphia probate law attorneys are skilled, effective advocates for people and families. With deep experience handling a wide range of probate matters, our law firm will protect your rights and your interests. If you have any specific questions or concerns about the probate process in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, we are here to help. For a strictly confidential, no-commitment case evaluation with a top probate lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact us today.
An Overview of the Probate Process in Pennsylvania
Probate is a court-supervised process through which a person’s will is confirmed, their assets and property are identified, and their estate is settled. Formal probate has the potential to be a long, sometimes frustrating process in Pennsylvania. With guidance from a probate law attorney, you and your family will be able to navigate the probate process most efficiently and cost-effectively. Here are six key things to know about the probate process in Pennsylvania:
- The Executor (Personal Representative) is Responsible: Probate cases can be divided into two broad categories in Pennsylvania: Probate with a will and probate without a will. The lack of a will does not mean that probate is unnecessary. When a person passes away without a will in Pennsylvania, they are deemed “intestate”—their estate still needs to be settled. The executor named in the will is responsible for initiating the probate process. If there is no will, a personal representative of the deceased should start probate.
- Executor Must File the WIll in the Appropriate County: Assuming there is a will, the executor is responsible for filing that in the appropriate county. The probate process should be initiated in the current county of residence of the deceased. If there are questions about where to start the probate process due to unclear county residency, an experienced Philadelphia probate lawyer can help.
- An Exception for Small Estates: Formal probate is not required in every case in Pennsylvania. The state offers an alternative option referred to as “simplified probate” for smaller estates. Under Pennsylvania law (20 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3102), an estate may be eligible for the simplified process if the total value of the estate is less than $50,000. To start the small estate probate process in Pennsylvania, the executor of the will must file a written request with the proper county probate court. If you have any questions about small estate probate, our Philadelphia probate law attorneys can help.
- Certain Property Can Skip Probate: Notably, not all of a decedent’s assets necessarily have to go through the probate process. There are a few ways in which assets can avoid probate. First, anything held via joint tenancy (usually with a spouse) can transfer outside of probate. For example, imagine that a married couple jointly owned two vehicles. Those vehicles will automatically pass to the surviving spouse outside of probate. Next, assets can avoid probate through proper beneficiary designations. As an example, a 401(k) account allows for beneficiary designations. Finally, property and assets held in a valid legal trust can pass outside of the probate process.
- Court Will Issue Letters of Testamentary (or Letters of Administration): The executor of the will or the personal representative of the deceased is responsible for administering the estate. To ensure that they are in the best position to do so, the probate court will issue them letters of testamentary (probate with a will) or letters of administration (probate without a will). These legal documents give an executor or personal representative the ability to collect assets owned by the decedent. All probate assets must be identified.
- Executor Must Pay Debts/Tax Before Distribution: Before probate can be finalized, the executor must pay debts, pay taxes, and resolve any other outstanding claims against the estate. Depending on the circumstances, this may be a relatively straightforward process or it may be a highly complex process. In some cases, there are many creditor claims against an estate. Pennsylvania law requires the executor/personal representative to notify all creditors of the probate process. Once all valid claims have been satisfied, the property and assets covered by the probate process can be distributed to the proper heirs.
A Note on Probate in New Jersey: Probate is handled on a state-by-state level. While the probate laws in New Jersey share similarities to the probate laws in Pennsylvania, there are also some important differences. If you are going through the probate process in a county in South Jersey, our experienced New Jersey probate law attorneys can help.
How the Philadelphia Probate Lawyers at Scott Counsel, P.C. Can Help
You may have heard horror stories about the probate process. Unfortunately, delays, disputes, and other problems can arise when things are not handled properly. At Scott Counsel, P.C., we help clients navigate probate in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. When you reach out to our Philadelphia office location, you will have an opportunity to consult with a probate lawyer who can:
- Conduct a comprehensive, confidential review of your case;
- Gather all of the documents, records, and information you need to proceed; and
- Take whatever legal action is needed to protect your best interests.
Our law firm is devoted to providing personalized legal guidance and support to every client. A one-size-fits-all approach simply does not work in probate cases. With a history of testimonials from clients, you and your loved ones can count on our Philadelphia probate law attorneys for skilled legal representation.
Contact Our Philadelphia Probate Law Attorneys Today
At Scott Counsel, P.C., our Philadelphia probate lawyers are experienced, solutions-driven advocates for clients. If you have any questions about the probate process, we are available to help. Contact us at (856) 672-7248 for a fully confidential initial appointment with an attorney. We handle probate law matters in Philadelphia and throughout the surrounding region in Southeastern Pennsylvania, including in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Delaware County, and Chester County.
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