Frequently Asked Questions About Probate

At Haberstroh, Sullivan & George, LLP, we have helped many families through the legal requirements of probate, guiding their progress to avoid mistakes and ensure that all details are carefully attended to. We know that the probate process can seem confusing. Below are answers to some of our clients’ most frequently asked questions so you understand how probate works and how we can help.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of dividing up a deceased individual’s estate, whether a legal will exists. If there is no will, Pennsylvania law is used to determine the distribution of assets. Alternately, if a will exists, its instructions to distribute assets to beneficiaries are carried out.

What Happens During The Probate Process?

Probate settles the estate by paying the deceased’s debts and distributing remaining assets to the estate’s beneficiaries. If the deceased did not previously appoint an executor in his or her will, the court will appoint one. The executor has the responsibility of:

  • Identifying all assets and property of the deceased
  • Paying all final bills of the estate
  • Overseeing the correct distribution of assets to heirs

What Is An Attorney’s Role In The Probate Process?

An estate planning attorney experienced in probate matters can be of valuable help to the estate administrator. With in-depth knowledge of the Pennsylvania probate court, a lawyer can provide legal counsel and advocacy to make the experience less stressful, ensure every legal matter is handled correctly the first time and administer the estate in the most expedient manner possible.

Do All Of The Deceased’s Assets Pass Into Probate?

Not necessarily. Bank accounts with payable or transferable on death clauses do not go through probate. Assets or property of the deceased held in trust or joint tenancy do not need to pass through probate. Accounts with a designated beneficiary, such as life insurance and retirement accounts, also do not pass through probate.

Contact Us For The Experienced Guidance You Need

If you are designated as an administrator of an estate, you do not have to go through probate alone. Give Haberstroh, Sullivan & George, LLP, a call at 814-201-6838​ today to schedule a consultation at our Martinsburg offices. Call our Altoona office at 814-201-6263. You may also reach us online with this contact form.