Probate: Establishing The Validity Of A Will

Located in Brookville, the law office of Gordon & Dennison serves the probate and estate law administration needs of individuals and families here in central Pennsylvania. Our lawyers provide knowledgeable guidance to individuals and beneficiaries facing issues surrounding probate. We can help those chosen in a will to administer it, or we can work with the courts as they assign a personal representative if there is no will. Our estate law experience enables us to walk clients through this process with minimal stress. We can often foresee issues and resolve them before they become major disputes. If there is need for litigation, our strong background working in court ensures that you have an attorney who will effectively protect your rights during this process.

What Does Probate Involve?

Overseen here by the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, probate involves the collection, management and subsequent distribution of assets after a person's death. The process varies from estate to estate, but the legal process typically involves the following steps:

  • Filing a petition in court to begin the process
  • Validating the will if one exists
  • Identifying and notifying all heirs and relatives
  • Gathering all assets
  • Paying all taxes and other debts
  • Dispersing assets as determined by the will
  • Dispersing assets through the laws of intestate succession if there is no will
  • File a closing statement with court

Handling Matters Outside Of Probate

Not all assets go through probate; common examples include insurance policies and payable on death accounts. Using a trust instead of a will generally avoids the probate process altogether and is more useful if a large number of assets are involved. The decedent may have also chosen to avoid or minimize the probate process, using one of the following estate planning tools to transfer assets:

  • A revocable living trust
  • Joint property ownership
  • Gifts
  • Death beneficiaries
  • A Roth IRA

The Process Of Probate

The reason for avoiding probate is that additional charges are involved in the process. Moreover, it can last up to six months or longer, depending on the size of the estate and the decedent's arrangements. A thoughtful will can simplify these arrangements and plan for those expenses. Smaller estates can also move through probate relatively quickly, depending on the court's backlog as well as the circumstances of the case. Whatever the needs of the client, we work closely to resolve these matters as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Contact Us To Discuss Your Probate Issue

Call our office in Brookville at 814-759-4029 or send us a message using this website. All initial consultations are free.