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How does Probate work in Philadelphia County?

Posted on Wed Mar 26, 2014, on Probate and Estate Administration

Most Recently Updated Saturday, December 9th, 2017: How does Probate work in Philadelphia County?

How does Probate work in Philadelphia County?

How does Probate work in Philadelphia County?

What is Probate?

In Philadelphia, probate refers to a process supervised by the Philadelphia Register of Wills and the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court for transferring a deceased Philadelphian’s probate estate following the terms of the deceased’s will.  In the alternative, if there is no will, by the Pennsylvania Rules of Intestate Succession.

How to Start Probate.

If you have a will, the process begins with the executor obtaining an original copy of your death certificate.  After that, the executor takes the death certificate, the original will, a photo ID and a form of payment to the Philadelphia Register of Wills.

If you have no will, the process can become much more complicated. All eligible persons can bring your death certificate to the Register’s office and request that they are named the estate’s administrator. If the interested persons cannot agree, a hearing is necessary.  All the parties frequently retain a Philadelphia Estate Litigation Lawyer

There is no hearing required if all the paperwork is for the executor, or if all interested persons agree upon an administrator. In these cases, the Philadelphia Register can issue letters to the executor or administrator without a hearing. This paperwork authorizes that person to act on behalf of the estate.

Don’t Take the Job Lightly.

Taking on the job of executor or administrator should not be taken lightly. Remeber, by accepting the appointment you become a fiduciary.  So you owe the beneficiaries a duty. Because of that responsibility, the fiduciary can be found legally responsible for any damage that comes to the estate.  Hence, the recipients can force you to appear before an Orphans’ Court judge. The judge can order you to account for every penny of the estate and explain every expense.

If You Take the Job, Start Quickly and Keep Good Records.

Once appointed, the executor or the executor’s Probate Lawyer gathers the estate’s assets. From those assets, determines the validity of debts and creditor claims and pay those claims.  There are various forms with the Register and several tax returns. 

Sometimes the Executor or Probate Lawyer must manage and potentially sell real estate and close down or sell the deceased’s business.  Throughout the process, the lawyer or executor must address the beneficiaries’ concerns.

At the end of the process, the fiduciary should obtain a release from all beneficiaries before distributing any money.  Without a release, the recipients can use the inheritance to bring the executor or administrator before the Orphans’ Court for some reasons. If you as the executor have given all the estate assets to the beneficiaries, then you would be forced to use your funds to retain an attorney to address whatever claims the beneficiaries bring.

The System Expects You to Hire Experts; Probate Lawyer, Realtor, CPAs.

Pennsylvania recognizes that executors and administrators need help.  Hence the system allows the fiduciary to use estate funds to retain a Philadelphia probate attorney to assist with the administration. Further, the estate pays this cost.  Therefore as an administration cost, the attorney’s fee is deductible against the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax.

How does Probate work in Philadelphia County?

Space here doesn’t allow me to give a great deal of detail. So, if you would like more information I encourage you to read my Article, “Probate Process: Everything You Need to Know.”  

In this Post, I tried to introduce you to the Probate Process. Hopefully, you can answer the question, How does Probate work in Philadelphia County?  Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website.  So, let me know how I did, comments and questions are welcome!

Furthermore, I would be happy to answer your questions.  If you have any other matters feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. We try to make the process as painless as possible!

Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation, It’s All We Do!

Author, Peter Klenk, Esq.

Throughout our website,, you may find more information about Estate Planning. Also, our firm focuses exclusively in the area of estate planning, probate, and the litigation surrounding estate planning and probate.  This includes Will Contests and Will Challenges. Therefore, if you need assistance with any estate related matter call one of our Experienced Estate Planning Lawyers for a free consultation. We practice throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota and Florida.


Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Probate, Probate Attorney, Probate Lawyer, Tatyana Gleyzer

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