Depending on the size of the estate the probate process may take up to one year to complete. The first step in the process is to check the will of the decedent in order to determine who will act as the personal representative of the estate. The personal representative is in charge of handling all of the matters involved in the probate process and may be paid a small salary for performing these tasks.
Go to the Allegheny County Department of Court Records website to download the petition for probate and grant of letters form. Follow the instructions for the form, enter all of the requested information and print two copies, on for yourself and one for the court.
Read More: Probate Account vs. Probate Inventory
File your petition for probate along with a copy of the will at the Allegheny County Courthouse Department of Wills in downtown Pittsburgh. You will also need an estate information sheet, proof of identification and an original copy of the death certificate.
Pay the fee to the court for the petition of probate. For standard wills the fee, as of 2011, is $129 and it may only be paid by business check or cash. For a list of other fees associated with the probate process, check the Allegheny County Department of Court Records probate fees website.
If the personal representative named in the will decides not to administer the estate, have him complete the renunciation form on the Allegheny County Department of Court Records website and file this along with the petition for probate.
Perform all of the necessary duties of a personal representative including: accounting of assets, satisfaction of debts, distribution of assets and the filing of other routine paperwork such as the final state and local taxes for the decedent.
File a certificate of notice within three months of the filing of the petition for probate. File an inventory of the estate within nine months of the death of the decedent. File a status report within two years of the petition for probate and file the inheritance tax return within nine months of death. The forms for the above filings can all be found online at the Allegheny County Department of Court Records website.
Serving as the personal representative on an estate can lead to legal liability if you do not faithfully perform your duties. You should contact an estate attorney before filing the petition for probate to ensure you are complying with all of your duties.
If you are able to file the inheritance tax return within three months of death, you will receive a 5 percent discount.
Louis Kroeck started writing professionally under the direction of Andrew Samtoy from the "Cleveland Sandwich Board" in 2006. Kroeck is an attorney out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania specializing in civil litigation, intellectual property law and entertainment law. He has a B.S from the Pennsylvania State University in information science technology and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.