A Pennsylvania probate property lawyer will help you figure out whether or not the property inside a person's estate needs to pass through the probate phases or can be managed outside of probate. Your will explains what happens to your property.
There are several different types of property that do not need to be included in the probate process and sorting this information out early on in the estate administration schedule can make it easier for everyone involved and help to clarify what must be done by the person who is serving as the estate administrator. A knowledgeable estate administrator plays a crucial role in handling all aspects of a case but must begin by making an inventory of all assets. Not all property belonging to a decedent in the state of Pennsylvania is subject the state's probate laws. The decision as to which assets fall under these laws is contingent on whether or not it has designated beneficiaries and how it is titled. In general, assets that are titled solely in the decedent's name have to be part of the probate process, whereas assets that are consider jointly held and are right of survivorship or assets with designated beneficiaries, such as a life insurance policy, will not. Probate property in the state of Pennsylvania can include all personal and real estate property that was owned by the decedent alone without any designated beneficiaries. It is the estate executor's responsibility in Pennsylvania to take an inventory of all of the assets owned by the decedent and the estimated how much they were worth at the time of death and report this to the probate court. This can include probate property such as stocks and bonds, a bank account owned only by the decedent, solely owned brokerage accounts, jewelry, art, real estate, antiques, vehicles, and other items that could be seen as having value. Assets that are part of the probate process must be clearly listed but may ultimately be given to the beneficiaries and heirs listed in the will. One of the most challenging aspects of the property in probate process has to do with joint tenants. Assess that are Jointly titled, such as mutual funds, brokerage accounts, bank accounts and mutual funds are not part of probate. The bank accounts that were shared with another who has right of survivorship will go directly to the account holder or holders that survives.
Accounts that are held in trusts for another person do not go through probate and this is because legally those assets belong to the trust and not the decedent. Retirement accounts and life insurance policies often have their own designated beneficiaries, which means that these pass outside of the Pennsylvania probate process. All life insurance policies in the decedent's name will avoid probate because the proceeds will go directly to the designated beneficiaries. If there are fraudulent transfers, this can lead to lawsuits.
It is a good idea for anyone who is putting together their estate planning to select contingency beneficiaries in case the primary passes away prior to the person owning the account passing away. Certain accounts enable owners to designate beneficiaries, including mutual funds, brokerage accounts, securities, and bank accounts and theses assets do not pass through the probate process but instead go to the person designated as the beneficiary. Secondary beneficiaries need to be selected in the event that the primary beneficiary passes away before transfer or payment. The state does not allow death provision transfers for real estate or motor vehicles, which can be very complicated for a person who is just approaching the estate planning or probate administration process for the first time. Schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer who has practiced in this field and can advise you about mistakes to avoid.