As we continue to navigate these challenging times, the safety and well being of our clients, employees, families and friends remains our top priority. To that end, as an essential business to the individuals and families we serve, we are reaching out to share important updates on steps we are taking to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus, while continuing to serve you with as minimal disruption as possible.

We want to ensure our clients and friends that our law firm is operating without material impact of the health concerns in that we have had in place advanced technologies that allow us to continue to provide excellent legal services while attorneys and staff operate remotely, to avoid in-person meetings in all cases where that is possible. We will continue to provide consultations and conferences via telephone and/or internet conferencing when needed. We will continue to provide all the excellent legal services that our clients and friends have come to expect!

Please do not hesitate to call us if you have concerns or are in need of legal assistance. We pray for the health, peace and provision for all of our clients, employees, friends and family as we “weather the storm” together.

What is Probate?

The probate or estate administration process must occur when someone dies owning property in his or her name alone, requiring the appointment of a personal representative by the court, who will handle the administration of the decedent’s assets and debts, and settle his or her affairs.

If the decedent has a will and appoints a personal representative in the will, that person will be called an Executor.  If there is no appointment in the will, or if the decedent dies without a will, that person will be called the Administrator.

Once the Executor or Administrator is appointed by the court, then “Short Certificates” will be issued.  These are certificates of authority issued by the court evidencing that the Executor or Administrator is authorized to act on behalf of the Estate of the decedent, which will allow for liquidating estate assets, opening an estate checking account, selling estate real property, etc.

The probate process in Pennsylvania is not usually very long compared to many other states. The personal representatives have broad authority to efficiently and quickly administer the estate, including liquidation of assets, paying of creditor claims, etc.

While every probate estate is unique, the probate process typically involves the following steps:

  • Filing a petition to open the estate and appoint the Executor or Administrator
  • Notice to certain heirs as identified in the Pennsylvania statute and the will
  • Newspaper advertisement of the estate
  • Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by the Executor/Administrator
  • Identification of all debts and expenses, including decedent’s income tax
  • Liquidation of/sale of estate assets and payment of debts to rightful creditors
  • Payment of death taxes, if any
  • Final distribution to the heirs, either by filing a Petition for Distribution with the court for a court order directing the final distribution, or by an informal agreement for the distribution signed by all of the heirs