What Is Probate?

Last Will and Testament

Probate is the legal process that occurs once someone has died. This process occurs with or without a Will and is done in order to finalize or wrap up an individual’s affairs following their passing. 

If an individual has a Will, the probate court will follow the Will and if not, the court will follow something called intestate succession laws, which outline how one’s estate should be distributed and handled when there is no Will. 

This process starts in Pennsylvania by the filing of a document called a Petition for Grant of Letters which leads to an individual being appointed either by Will or the court to handle the estate. 

From this point various steps are taken throughout the probate process such as the compiling of an inventory of assets, the filing of an inheritance tax return, the paying of debts and expenses and various other steps depending on the complexity of the case. Finally, at the end of the probate process, distribution of remaining assets to your beneficiaries or heirs will occur. 

It is important to note that not all assets are subject to probate, such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts with specifically named beneficiaries. In addition, there are ways to avoid probate from occurring such as by setting up a Trust during your lifetime. 

The probate process as well as different ways to avoid probate are all areas of the law that our office handles on a daily basis and would be happy to discuss with you as it pertains to your specific needs. 


If you have any questions about the topic discussed in this video, or any estate law matter, please give us a call at Bononi & Company 724-832-2499.


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