There appears to be some confusion regarding the best way to handle one's legal estate. Some say that probate should be avoided while others insist that it is a necessary part of the process. The simple fact of the matter is that probate is simply the process in which the Pennsylvania resident's estate is transferred to beneficiaries.
Those who suggest that avoiding probate is best are often looking for the least expensive way in which to proceed. With probate, there generally are court costs, attorney fees and executor expenses; however, along with these costs are protections for those involved. The probate process is designed to protect the individuals involved and ensure that the deceased's property is properly handled.
During probate, an executor is named to take care of the estate; this executor can be identified in the decedent's will or appointed by the court. First, all assets belonging to the individual are accounted for, and any debts owed are also stated. These debts are then generally paid from the estate's assets. If there are any outstanding claims against the individual or his or her estate, these are also analyzed and appropriately dispensed with. Finally, the remaining property and assets are transferred to their intended recipients.
During probate, the Pennsylvania resident's will is the driving document in determining beneficiaries. Of course, accounts such as bank accounts and insurance policies generally have stated beneficiaries. Probate affords the opportunity to formally dispense of the estate and ensure that everything is taken care of in an appropriate manner. An experienced attorney can assist in establishing a plan prior to it being needed and then putting it into action when the time comes.
Source: estate.findlaw.com, "The Probate Basics", Accessed on Nov. 20, 2017