Pennsylvania probate process

| May 17, 2021 | Estate Planning

The last thing you want to think about when a loved one has died is what happens with their belongings. However, going through the probate process is likely easier than you think in Pennsylvania.

What happens in the probate process?

There are two crucial steps to the probate process: transferring assets and paying down debts. The beginning of the probate process starts with a court-appointed personal representative. Otherwise, the personal representative gets chosen by the deceased individual’s will. This personal representative must take on the responsibility of compiling the deceased person’s assets, paying off the deceased individual’s debts such as funeral expenses and taxes, and distributing the assets according to the deceased individual’s will.

What assets are included in the probate process?

Probate assets are assets that are the sole property of the deceased individual. Examples of these assets include their bank accounts, jewelry, furniture, personal vehicles, limited liability companies and more. Assets not included in the probate process are assets that are listed in the deceased individual’s living trust, bank accounts that have a transfer-on-death clause and life insurance policies that have a designated beneficiary.

What role do taxes play in estate planning?

For the distribution of the deceased individual’s property in the probate process, it is important to remember that there are two types of estate taxes: those that are imposed on the estate itself and those that are imposed on the beneficiaries. When you are conducting your own estate planning, you will need to understand the workings of federal and state estate taxes so that you can lower the amount of estate taxes you have to pay or that your deceased relative owes. If you are careful in your estate plan details, you may be able to avoid heavy taxes by utilizing the gift tax. You should speak with an estate planning attorney to find out how you can best minimize the amount of taxes you owe.

If you are going through the probate process, there are many paths for you to choose from. An estate administration lawyer may help guide you through the probate process.