When Pennsylvania residents hear the word "probate," they often get very apprehensive. Even if they’ve never been through the process of administering a loved one’s estate, they typically have preconceived notions that it is something that should be avoided at all cost. However, most of the time these feeling prove to be misconceptions that were based on exaggerations or stories that they were told.
Pennsylvania residents certainly don’t need to fear the probate process or somehow associate it with being “bad.” In fact, when a person dies in Pennsylvania without a will or any other type of estate plan in place, it is the probate process that actually ensures that their estate is administered properly and distributed to the appropriate family members and/or other individuals. Such heirs are determined by statutory laws which set forth the order in which a deceased person’s next of kin will be entitled to take and inherit from the estate. Typically, the decedent’s surviving spouse and children will stand first in line, but that’s certainly not the case when someone dies without close surviving family members. Without the probate process, there would be no accurate way to ensure the fair distribution of the estate assets in many cases.
Another big myth that Pennsylvania residents typically don’t have to fear is that the probate process will take forever. This notion tends to come from what we hear in the news about the estate of a celebrity or some other rich and famous person who has died. Certainly, larger estates with many assets and debts to be sorted out can take time, but most normal sized estates can be administered in a matter of months not years. In fact, at our firm we rarely see the probate estate administration process go beyond one year.
Look, no one is going to say that the probate process is fun, but it certainly doesn’t have to be the nightmare that some folks have made it out to be. If you’ve recently lost a loved one and are not sure where to turn for trusted legal advice, give us a call. We’ve been guiding clients in Pittsburgh and throughout Western Pennsylvania through the probate process with competency, compassion and care for over 30 years. Give us a call today to schedule your free legal consultation or visit our law firm online at http://www.americanwillsandestates.com You’ll be glad you did.