What is the Probate Process in Pennsylvania & New Jersey?

Posted November 10, 2023

  • What is the Probate Process in Pennsylvania & New Jersey?

Probate is the legal process that takes place after a decedent passes away. Probate allows for the transfer and distribution of the decedent’s assets held within their estate. In a nutshell, the process is intended to ensure that a person’s last will & testament is being properly executed, including the settlement of debts and distribution of any remaining assets after expenses are paid. Probate has similar meanings across the United States. However, there are nuances to the process that exist between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and you should be prepared for what to expect in the event you are called upon to navigate the Probate courts of either jurisdiction.

The probate process can be simple. However, the existence of an estate plan will dictate whether the procedures to follow can be found within a Will or directed by intestate succession as designated by the respective State Legislature. The Probate process will:

  1. Verify the validity of a Will, if one existed at the time of the decedent’s death;
  2. Estimate the value of the Decedent’s estate; and
  3. Provide a formalized process to distribute and transfer title to assets previously held by the decedent prior to death.

Throughout the probate process, the court will oversee financial management of the Estate, payment of taxes, transfer of property, and final distribution of the Estate’s assets after all expenses are paid. The Court’s oversight provides protection to all beneficiaries, and it gives the personal representative a roadmap to the orderly disposition of the Estate’s assets in accordance with the Decedent’s last wishes, or the intestacy statutes.

How does the process work?

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the probate process begins when the executor named in the will files a petition with the county where the decedent resided. Once the documentation has been processed, the court will grant the executor power to settle debts, sell property and distribute assets. An additional consideration is whether the Decedent owned property outside the state where they resided at their time of death. If so, then an ancillary Estate may be required to transfer title to the property.

Understanding the probate process is what we do every day, and we look forward to guiding you through your loved one’s Estate. Our team can provide you with a step-by-step approach to the probate process based in empathy. This process can be overwhelming while you are grieving the loss of those closest to you. So, please contact me today and we will help ease the stress brought on by Probate. Our Estates team has experience in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is eager to assist you today.

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