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 in western 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 a need for litigation, our strong background ensures that you have an attorney who will effectively protect your rights during this process.
What Does Probate Involve?
Overseen 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
- Filing a closing statement with the 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
- Death beneficiaries