It is crucial for heirs named in wills and others who might inherit to remain aware of their legal rights at every step in the probate process. This could include challenging the authenticity of a will or asking the Orphan’s Court to evaluate the actions of an executor.
Our estate planning attorneys are well-versed on the complex legalities that come with probate. Let our New Castle probate lawyers examine your legal rights, explain the relevant laws, and take all necessary steps to guide you through probate.
Probate is a legal process that occurs when someone passes away. Upon a person’s death, an executor, often nominated in a will, submits a petition for probate to the local branch of the Orphan’s Court – a subdivision of the Court of Common Pleas that serves to protect someone’s personal and property rights when they are unable to manage their own affairs.
This document, known as the Petition for Grant of Letters, requires information about the decedent, their property, and a list of all named heirs and family members. An experienced attorney could help you complete and submit probate documents while ensuring that they are legally enforceable.
The most recent copy of the decedent’s will should be included with the Petition for Grant of Letters. The court must determine the authenticity of the presented will. If it contains the decedent’s signature and the signatures of two witnesses, there is a presumption of validity. However, any interested party can argue that a will is invalid due to fraud, undue influence, or the testator not being of sound mind at the time of signing.
Once a court determines that a will is valid, it will grant executor powers to an individual, who is usually designated in the will. An executor receives testamentary letters that give them the legal authority to handle the estate, with responsibilities such as:
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 20 §3301 defines what is expected of executors in the administration of an estate. Failure to meet these requirements could lead to the revocation of an executor’s powers and the executor being liable to the estate for any lost value.
A New Castle probate attorney could help executors make proper decisions with regards to the estate or evaluate whether an individual has met their obligations under the law if an interested party requests it.
Probate is an essential process that will determine the rights of heirs to a decedent’s estate. A person nominated as an executor can ask the Orphan’s Court to initiate probate and issue letters testamentary.
Our New Castle probate lawyers may be able to help. We could help executors meet their duties under the law or take the lead in assisting heirs in determining whether a will is valid or challenge an executor’s actions. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.