Why is There a Probate Process?

Pennsylvania state law provides for a probate process in order to efficiently administer a decedent’s assets and debts, protect beneficiaries and creditors, and to make sure that the estate is distributed properly.

Probate may not be necessary if there are no assets in the decedent’s name alone, such as when there is a Living Trust which holds title to all of the decedent’s assets and sets forth the distribution of those assets. Other examples of assets that may not have to pass through the probate process are bank accounts that are held jointly with the decedent and another person(s), are held in the decedent’s name “in trust for” or “payable on death” to a beneficiary, or real estate that is titled in the name of decedent with another person jointly “with right of survivorship.”