It can be devastating to lose someone in your family, but once a loved one has passed on, there is also the complex process of probate — or dividing up and settling the estate or property. If someone has left a will, the executor named in the will files in the Register of Wills office in the county where the decedent resided. If no will was made or a will cannot be found, the adult child or surviving spouse of the deceased will file a petition for probate with the local probate court.
When Probate Proceedings Don’t Apply
In Pennsylvania, executors of small estates — defined as under $50,000 — can apply with the local probate court for simplified probate proceedings. These streamlined proceedings can save time and effort, since not all the steps of a regular probate hearing need to occur. In addition, some assets don’t need to go to probate in Pennsylvania. These include:
- Property held in living trust.
- Property held in joint ownership (co-owned assets transfer to the other co-owner after someone passes on).
- Assets or property for which there was a beneficiary (for example, a life insurance policy).
Approval from a probate court is not usually needed to release up to $5,000 in wages from an employer to the surviving family. Probate court approval is also not generally required to pay out life insurance policies up to $11,000 and bank accounts up to $10,000.
If you lost a loved one and are wondering what assets you can access quickly, contact a probate attorney in Berks County, PA or your area. Attorneys understand you will need resources immediately to pay for bills, memorial expenses and more. The attorneys at Miller Law Group, for example, have already worked with thousands of families in the Pennsylvania area and understand how to handle these sensitive matters.
Sometimes, challenges arise in probate, and in these cases, it’s important to contact a probate trust attorney in Reading or your PA area. For example, if someone objects to the will, a probate or probate trust attorney can offer advice and support and help guide you through the process of resolving the issue. If creditors come forward with a claim against the estate or if there are taxes to pay, as there often are, an attorney can walk you through each step and can look out for your best interests.
Working With a Probate Attorney
Pennsylvania does make probate easier by allowing some assets to be distributed without recourse to a probate court. However, tax issues, multiple beneficiaries and other complexities do mean working with a Pennsylvania probate attorney is beneficial.
Keep in mind, too, you’ll often be going through the probate process while you’re grieving. It can be easy to miss paperwork or to make a mistake that can cause problems. For example, if you make even an honest error when paying taxes on the estate, you could be dealing with the IRS for years.
If you’d like to speak to a probate attorney in Reading, PA, contact the law offices of Miller Law Group. We pride ourselves on treating our clients with the utmost care and attention.
We realize estate planning and probate are often sensitive issues and happen at difficult times. We do our best to provide you with the highest standard of legal advice and support while also treating you like a person and not a number. If you’d like caring, professional legal advice from attorneys who have already helped thousands of clients throughout Pennsylvania, contact Miller Law Group for your consultation.