The death of a loved one comes with an array of emotions and difficult situations.
If your loved one fell into the high percentage group of people without a will, you also face dealing with probate court. During this difficult time, many people feel overwhelmed with questions about the process.
1. Do all assets go through probate?
In general, only assets your loved one solely owned will go through probate. Other assets usually can get transferred without the need for court approval. Those may include:
- Property jointly owned
- Bank accounts jointly owned
- Assets with a designated beneficiary
- Assets in a living trust
- Wages or compensation from an employer
- Life insurance
Of course, every situation has its nuances. Large estates or complicated situations, such as a beneficiary dying first, may complicate the probate court proceedings.
2. How long does it take?
Many factors play into how long the process takes. If no one in your family contests the estate, it may get resolved within 18 months. Situations without a will, an invalid will or disputes among beneficiaries will draw the process out and require additional legal oversight.
3. Do I have a timeline to meet?
While Pennsylvania has no strict date by which a person has to file probate, some laws do apply. Beneficiaries, heirs and creditors must get notified within three months of the death. Like with most things in life, sooner means better. Waiting to get the process started only makes the grieving process last longer.
While some probate situations go smoothly, others may require finesse. Luckily, you have help available to get through the process.