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How to Avoid Probate in Pennsylvania


Probate is a court-supervised process that happens after someone passes away. During the probate process, the estate of the deceased is opened. The property within the estate is then analyzed, creditors can make claims to recover debt, and assets are distributed to beneficiaries. While sometimes necessary, probate is a lengthy process and it can also be expensive. Below, our Carbon County estate planning lawyer explains different ways you can help your loved ones avoid the process.

Joint Ownership 

Property that is jointly owned with rights of survivorship will automatically pass to the surviving owner after one passes away. Jointly owned property can include bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, and other property. This property can bypass the probate process because it is no longer part of the deceased’s estate. The surviving owner will also have full control over the property.

Payable-On-Death Designations on Bank Accounts 

You can add a payable-on-death designation on your bank account. After you pass away, the funds then do not have to go through probate because they will be automatically directed to the name on the designation.

Transfer-on-Death Registration for Securities 

Like a payable-on-death designation on your bank account, you can also register a transfer-on-death on securities such as stocks and bonds. If you pass away, these securities will automatically transfer to the name on the registration and they are not subject to probate.

Life Insurance Policies 

Life insurance proceeds are also distributed directly to any beneficiary named on the policy. Life insurance policies are not generally subject to probate due to the named beneficiaries. You can also name beneficiaries on annuities and retirement accounts, which can also help your loved ones avoid probate.


You can transfer ownership of your property by gifting it to loved ones during your lifetime. When gifting property, you do relinquish any control over it. Additionally, while Pennsylvania does not have a gift tax, there is a federal gift tax and this could have implications for you or your loved ones.

Our Estate Planning Lawyer in Carbon County Can Help You Avoid Probate 

Probate is not inherently bad, but it can have some consequences for your loved ones during an already very difficult time. At The Law Office of Kim M. Gillen, P.C., our Carbon County estate planning lawyer can advise you of the strategies that are best for your situation to help your loved ones avoid probate. Call us today at 484-613-0011 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to get more information.



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