It is well known that Pennsylvania has a very aging population. Accordingly, I have many clients inquire about the “Probate Process” in the various Pennsylvania counties. Quite simply, when an individual dies they either die with or without a Will. If they die without a Will, it is called dying intestate. Dying with a Will is called dying testate.
Quite honestly, it is an easier process for the surviving heirs if the decedent dies with a Will as the Will delineates distribution of the assets and designates an executor (male) or executrix (female). The role of the execut(or) or (trix) is to help manage the probate process. Probate is the process in Pennsylvania and, more specifically in Allegheny County whereby the Executor, through the use of an attorney, files the decedent’s Will with the Register of Wills in the county in which the decedent resided. Once the Will is probated, the Executor again, through the attorney, must file certain documents within a scheduled timeframe. One of the more important filings is the filing of the Pennsylvania inheritance tax return. The return is to be filed within 9 months of the decedent’s death.
Prior to filing the return, the Attorney will advertise the individual’s death so that any one with a claim against the estate can file a formal claim with the Register of Wills. Claims that are not refuted must be paid before any distribution is made to heirs. Refuted claims can ultimately be litigated.
For more on the “Probate Process” see Part II of this series. Should you need help with this process, please contact an experienced Family Law attorney at Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates.