The probate process is a natural occurrence that takes place anytime that a person passes and has assets to divide amongst beneficiaries. In many instances, this is a relatively simple process where a court provides minimal supervision concerning the administration of an estate.
Sadly, situations can arise where heirs, potential heirs, and personal representatives may need to stand up for their rights or defend their actions. These complications may arise when the authenticity of a will is in doubt or when a personal representative may have failed in their duties under the law.
A Cranberry Township probate lawyer could address your concerns about this process. Our estate planning attorneys could explain the probate process, identifying potential errors, and argue to protect your legal rights in and out of court.
Probate is the legal process where a court ensures that a decedent’s wishes become a reality. The main way that the court accomplishes this goal is by authenticating the decedent’s will. It also helps by overseeing the administration of a decedent’s estate and holding personal representatives responsible to their legal duties.
A nominated personal representative in a will can present this testamentary document to the court to initiate proceedings. According to the Pennsylvania PEF Code, the representative must present the will in the probate court where the decedent lived prior to death. If properly done, the probate court issues that party letters testamentary that allow the representative to serve their function under the law. A Cranberry Township attorney could help personal representatives submit wills to probate court and begin this process.
The outcome of a probate case will determine the rights of heirs for all time. This means that people named in wills as heirs as well as those who might otherwise stand to inherit must act to protect themselves.
One way that probate court accomplishes is by authenticating the will. A proper will is one that accurately reflects the wishes of the testator as well as one that meets the Commonwealth’s rules of construction. According to PA Con. Stat. §20-2502, a will should contain the signature of the testator as well as be free from the undue influence of others. Individuals not named as heirs may wish to challenge whether this document is authentic. This could trigger the Commonwealth’s intestacy statute and result in their inheriting of certain assets.
Another common issue that arises during probate concerns the actions of the personal representative. Commonwealth law requires these people to act only in the interests of the estate and to properly document their actions. Failures to do so could result in removal from the position and the representative being personally liable to the estate for any reduction in value as a result of their inability to uphold their responsibilities. A Cranberry Township lawyer could determine if any fraud or malfeasance has occurred during the creation or administration of a will and argue for a desired outcome in probate court.
The probate process is exceedingly important for your future. The outcome of this case determines your property rights as well as ensures that a decedent’s wishes become a reality. As such, the probate court must act to determine the validity of a will, empower a personal representative, and hear arguments concerning the rights of heirs and potential heirs.
A Cranberry Township probate lawyer could help you during each stage of this process. A member of our team could assist nominated personal representatives to submit wills to the probate court and properly fulfill their roles under the law. We could also help heirs challenge the authenticity of wills or pursue compensation from personal representatives who fail in their duties. Reach out to our team of attorneys today to learn more.