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Probate During A Pandemic

What is probate in Pennsylvania? | Sykes Elder Law

During these unprecedented times we have all learned to adapt as families, communities, and businesses. We have seen that, even though our world effectively shut down, there were many parts of our lives that continued. Those who have lost loved ones during this time (whether due to the coronavirus or other reasons) may have been left unsure as to what probate options were still available. At the Strong Firm P.C., we want you to have access to all information concerning probate processes available to you and your family at this time.

The most important thing to realize when a loved one has passed, and you are preparing for potential probate, is that not all estates must go through a full administration. Most estates have property which is considered “non-probate” and will transfer automatically to the beneficiaries. The following assets are generally considered non-probate:

  • Retirement Accounts and Life Insurance – Most retirement accounts and life insurance policies have beneficiary designations and will pass to the beneficiaries with only a death certificate.
  • Property owned in Joint Tenancy w/ Right of Survivorship – Property owned by multiple people with “right of survivorship” will pass automatically to the surviving owner/s.
  • POD/TOD AccountsMany bank and brokerage accounts can have “payable on death” or “transfer on death” designations similar to retirement accounts and life insurance.

If there are still assets in the estate which must be probated, some estates are below a certain dollar amount (in Texas, this is $75,000 for all non-homestead estate property) and will be considered a “small estate” which maybe be settled by a Small Estate Affidavit. Some estates have only real property which may be passed to its beneficiaries by an Affidavit of Heirship, which only needs to be filed in the property records.

If the estate is over the “small estate” threshold and requires a full probate, many of our local courts are still open for business virtually. At the Strong Firm P.C., we have attended many probate hearings during this time via Zoom in Harris County and Montgomery County. To learn more about your options for probate during this time, please contact our firm at (281) 367-1222.

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