Probate is a proceeding that handles the affairs of your estate when you die. In probate, the public has a right to contest the ownership of your assets. How the court handles an estate in probate depends on the assets held within it. Estate administration in Pennsylvania allows you to guide your estate after death. Expect the following, however, if your estate is probated.
Assets made public
Probate hearings are public. The first procedure followed assesses a will. Intestacy is when you die without a will. This condition leaves the court with no guidance regarding what to do with your assets. Even with a will, however, the assets that are accounted for are made public during a court hearing. Planning your estate administration now can, instead, privatize your estate.
Wills get contested
A will tells the public what you want done with your possessions. They’re also, however, subject to debate. A child who claims that you weren’t well when you wrote your will has the right to be heard by a judge. Probates in Pennsylvania are intended to unveil the wishes or beneficiaries of an estate. Your will, though legal in court, gets reexamined to clarify your wishes. This is why it’s important to have a solid estate plan.
Here are some reasons that wills get contested in court:
- You didn’t adjust for divorce or a new spouse
- Your will has clear flaws with grammar, spelling, or its signatures
- You had mental health issues when you wrote your will
- Your estate doesn’t have rights over the assets that it claims
A judge decides on succession
At the end of a probate proceeding, your assets get disbursed to their respective beneficiaries. An executor, who you or the state assigns, leads the succession of your estate. This person pays debts, informs insurance companies, and finds your living heirs.
You have no control of your estate’s succession without an estate plan. In a trust, instead, your assets avoid probate and aren’t made public in Pennsylvania.