From Our “Ask a Question,” Mailbag: “My father recently died in Philadelphia; how does Probate in Philadelphia work?”
Probate Lawyer, Peter Klenk
How Does Probate in Philadelphia Work?
You can’t take it with you! Every country has a process for determining how to divide up a deceased person’s property. For example, in some countries, the Process is done by religious leaders, in others by judges, and in others by someone appointed by the deceased. In the United States, this process is called “Probate.” In its most simple state, Probate is simply the formal Process we use to make sure your things end up where they are supposed to after you die.
Can You Avoid Probate in Philadelphia?
You can avoid the probate system if you like. For example, you can name beneficiaries for accounts, make deeds joint, or even form Revocable Trusts. However, these options don’t work well if you have minor children or wish to protect inheritances from the heir’s divorce or potential creditors. Plus, putting children’s names on your deed can lead to unforeseen legal complications. For these reasons and many others, most people decide to use a Will, utilizing the Probate process.
Is Probate in Philadelphia Difficult?
Probate gets a bad reputation from three states; New York, Florida, and California. In these states, the Probate process is unnecessarily expensive and complicated. In Philadelphia, though, the Process is reasonable and straightforward. Remember, the Probate process is all about making sure your things end up in the right hands. The right hands might be creditors. Or a charity. So, the Process starts as a blank slate, and the Executor’s job is to provide the necessary information to the Philadelphia Register of Wills.
The Probate Process in Philadelphia?
In summary, the process begins with a Petition. The Philadelphia Register of Wills is responsible for giving the power to someone to gather your assets, pay creditors, and then distribute your things to the correct people. Remember, the Register of Wills doesn’t know about the death. The Petition presents the Register with all the necessary information; the death certificate to prove death, the original Will, and then all the required family data and information about the Executor.
If all the information is in order, the Register will “Register” the Will and give the Executor the necessary paperwork. The Executor must ensure the assets are secured and end up in the correct place. Therefore notifications must go out to family members to come forward with any concerns. The Executor also advertises the estate’s opening. The advertisements inform creditors that the Executor (or the Executor’s lawyer) is whom they contact with claims. The Executor also pays the taxes due (the IRS never goes away). The Department of Welfare must confirm they have no claims. And several other steps. These all are information-gathering steps, so the Executor knows what assets and creditors exist and makes sure the heirs know who to contact. The Inheritance Tax Return utilizes this information also.
In the end, after selling the assets, paying taxes, and satisfying creditors, the heirs, sign a settlement agreement confirming that they agree with all the work done and releasing the Executor from liability. Obtaining a release is a vital last step. No good deed goes unpunished. Don’t give out any money until you are released!
With What Part of the Probate in Philadelphia Process Does the Probate Attorney Help?
Some Executors have us do everything. They want us to contact them after completing the Process. For many clients, though, as Philadelphia Probate Attorneys assist with the Petition, the sale of any real estate, the Inheritance Tax Return, and the final settlement agreement. Estates differ, but these are the typical items most Executors want us to manage.
Would you like more detail? Follow this link to my article, Probate: Everything You Need to Know. There are also other helpful links on this page.
In Conclusion: How Does Probate in Philadelphia Work?
I hope you found helpful this short article responding to the question how does Probate in Philadelphia work. I have also included some links for more detailed information. Contact us if you would like to know more or have an estate that needs our help. Let our Probate and Estate Planning lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
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