How to Probate a Will in Pennsylvania

Most people who know anything about probate want to avoid it. Even in Pennsylvania, where probate is relatively streamlined compared to other states, probate avoidance is still highly desirable for most people. If you must go through probate, how does it work in Pennsylvania? 

First, the original will and any amendments or codicils must be presented.

In Montgomery County, our principal county of practice, a petition form must be filed as well as an ‘Estate Information Sheet’, another form. The form goes to the Register of Wills, an office of the Orphan’s Court that handles probating wills.

In addition, a valid death certificate must be presented.

Montgomery county has an extensive list of filing fees — this is where it can get tricky, even though probate is streamlined in Pennsylvania, there are of course costs associated with probate. Fees include attorneys fees, the fees for the county and state, and perhaps the cost of more emotional pain at a time when you do not need it.

How can you avoid probate? By using a living trust based estate plan rather than a Will, and funding your living trust, you can avoid probate because your assets are no longer tied directly to you, but they are put in a trust. The beauty of this is that you still control your trust (hence the term, ‘Revocable’ living trust). Only after you pass, does your trust become irrevocable and gets its own Tax ID number.

If you want to learn more about probate avoidance, please call our office at 215-706-0200 or email at