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Probate

You might have heard someone use the term “tied up in probate” when talking about the legal system without ever getting a clear answer on how probate actually works.

If you have questions about the ins-and-outs of probate, Doylestown’s Gummer Elder Law is here to help. Read on to learn more.

What is probate?

When someone dies and leaves behind a will, courts use the probate process to prove whether the will is valid. In fact, the word probate comes for the Latin term for “to prove the will.”

The goal here is ensure that the deceased person’s assets are handed down according to their wishes and that person’s will is a legally viable document.

Is probate always necessary?

If someone dies with no probate assets, then probate may not be necessary. Probate assets are usually those that are in the decedent’s – the deceased person – name alone.

If the decedent owned only a joint bank account, or a life insurance policy with designated beneficiaries, these are considered non-probate assets and do not have to go through probate.

Doylestown residents – like everyone else in Pennsylvania – go through the same process when they die without a will: the state determines who gets their property.

In most cases, assets will go to the person’s spouse or children. But when you create a will, you can specifically state who you want to receive your assets after death.

What happens if I become the administrator of someone’s estate?

If you have been appointed executor or administrator of an estate, you will need to:

  • Inform institutions such as banks, creditors and Social Security that the person has died.
  • Create a bank account to pay bills and collect incoming funds
  • Make an inventory of the decedent’s assets
  • Maintain their property before selling it
  • Pay taxes and debts
  • Distribute assets to beneficiaries

How long does probate take in Bucks County, PA?

The length of the probate process depends on the complexity of the estate and whether the decedent performed proper estate planning before they died. In Pennsylvania, the probate process can often take more than a year.

How can a Doylestown estate attorney help me with this process?

By law, you do not need an attorney to help you through the probate/administration process, although it can go a lot smoother if you work with an attorney.

If you are dealing with a loved one’s will or have questions about how to navigate the world of probate and estate administration, Doylestown’s Gummer Elder Law is here to help.

We have spent years helping our Doylestown  clients navigate the world of estate planning, probate and estate administration. Contact us to learn how we can assist in this often difficult process.

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