Although many people don’t like to think about it, there are legal implications involved in a person’s death. If you die, your loved ones may have numerous issues to resolve. So, too, if you lose a loved one, either expectedly or unexpectedly, you might encounter legal issues regarding the Pennsylvania probate process. To resolve such issues, it’s important to understand what probate is and how it can affect a person’s estate.
In simple terms, probate is the transferring of someone’s property after he or she dies. Pennsylvania and all other states have laws and regulations in place to govern probate issues. Probate issues often include topics such as debt payment, collecting personal property and distribution of property that has been gathered.
Are you listed as a beneficiary in a person’s last will and testament?
If your parent, spouse or other immediate loved one has died, your name might be listed in a last will and testament. Perhaps your family member wanted you to inherit his or her entire estate. Maybe there is a business succession plan in place that directly pertains to you. Or, perhaps you are one of several people who are expected to receive an inheritance.
If your loved one did not sign a last will and testament, his or her estate becomes intestate, which means that a probate judge will determine how the assets and property associated with the state should be distributed. Various other probate issues may also arise, including those pertaining to estate taxes or disputes that have arisen because someone has challenged the validity of a will.
Handling legal complications while grieving the loss of a loved one
As you mourn the loss of a loved one, the last thing you want is to haggle over assets or become entangled in confrontation between family members or other beneficiaries. In a perfect world, such things would never occur. In reality, however, probate issues can be complex and difficult to resolve. You might find yourself at odds with a sibling or other close relative, which is stressful and may intensify your grief.
It’s best to learn as much as you can about Pennsylvania probate laws ahead of time, so that you’re not confused or caught off-guard if a problem arises. Whether you’re an executor to someone’s estate, a beneficiary, business partner or other interested party, it’s good to know where to seek outside support if you don’t feel equipped to handle a particular legal problem on your own. The sooner you obtain support, the easier it might be to resolve a probate problem, hopefully without having to go to court.