Portland, OR asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania

Q: Is there oversight if someone dies and no one files a will?

My father, whom I was estranged from, died in April 2020. I am curious about his will and would like to know its content. I have no idea who the executor is or if there is one. He died in a nursing home. County says no will has been registered at this time. 1) Does someone have to file a will/probate on his behalf? And in what time frame? 2) If someone is named executor and they don't file anything, who monitors that? How would the state know? 3) As next of kin, would I automatically be notified of probate even if I'm not in will? 4) Is it just possible that no one ever processes his will? Is there no state oversight? Note: It is unclear whether is he had any or much money.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Wormleysburg, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Your post shows Oregon as the origin so I will start off by saying probate is state specific, depending on where the decedent resided at the time of death. That being said, in Pennsylvania there is no requirement to probate a Will unless the decedent had sufficient assets to open an estate, and those assets were not otherwise distributed (joint accounts, designated beneficiaries on accounts, etc). There really is no way to give you general information on your father's estate without having some more detailed background information on the make-up of his assets at the time of his death. You should consult with an experienced estates attorney familiar with the county where your father resided at the time of his death.

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