When your loved one passes away, you may experience the intense grief that comes from loss, and you may find yourself struggling with the emotional implications of the death. You may also be facing the responsibility of managing your loved one’s estate, handling remaining affairs and distributing assets according to his or her will. This is not always an easy process, and you will benefit from knowing what to expect and how you can move forward as expediently as possible.
Probate is the process of validating a will, and it is often a requirement to settle and eventually close a person’s estate. Probate can take months, or even longer if there are disputes over the will, and the executor oversees it. Whether you are the executor, potential heir or other interested party, an understanding of probate may be helpful.
Does your loved one have a will?
Even if your loved one has a will, probate is necessary. This process validates the will and requires other steps that allow for the closing of a decedent’s estate and eventual distribution of his or her assets. The executor will file the will with the probate court, contact creditors, pay off remaining debts and take other steps on behalf of the estate. Once you have met all probate requirements, the process concludes with the distribution of all remaining assets to heirs, according to instructions left in the will.
Dying without a will
If your loved one dies without a will, that is known as dying intestate. Probate may still be a requirement, and the distribution of assets will follow state laws. The court-appointed administrator will be responsible for locating potential heirs to the Pennsylvania estate. With or without a will, assets held in a trust, or jointly held assets, do not have to go through the probate process.
Protecting the wishes of your loved one
You may find that you and your loved ones benefit from having guidance as you navigate estate matters and the probate process after the death of a family member. This assistance can help with the prevention of issues and setbacks that could cost your family time and money. The probate process can be stressful and complicated, but you do not have to navigate it alone.