How do I probate during the pandemic?
It seems that everywhere we look right now, we are still being flooded with news about the coronavirus (COVID-19). Industries are still adjusting, people are still working from home, hospitals are still overwhelmed, and at the same time, our lives keep moving. Those that have lost loved ones during this difficult time may be feeling lost and uncertain about how to navigate the next steps. After dealing with the challenges of caring for and losing a loved one during the pandemic, you're probably exhausted. Now, the bills are coming in, bank statements are piling up, and the bank just keeps saying "you need a short certificate".
Before doing anything, you should contact your estate attorney. Probate is not always necessary so you should consult with your attorney before initiating the process. If it is necessary, your attorney will then proceed with preparing the Petition for Probate and any other necessary documents.
Typically, probate is a quick, same-day procedure. However, at the present time, our Montgomery County and Bucks County Registers of Wills are accepting petitions via e-mail only until further notice and setting up video calls in lieu of the typical in-person procedure. The e-mail must include the Petition for Probate, a photocopy of the original Will (if any), death certificate, photo identification of the petitioner(s), and any other necessary documents. After submitting these documents, your request is then added to a waitlist. Currently, Montgomery County is taking weeks to process these requests. Attorneys are suggesting that clients reach out to them as soon as possible so that if probate is necessary, clients can get on the waitlist right away. Once the video call is scheduled and completed, you or your attorney will then send the originals of the e-mailed documents to the Register of Wills, along with the probate fee, to process and issue short certificates to you.
Additionally, because the probate process is slower right now, it is helpful to talk with your estate attorney and discuss ways to begin administering the estate while you are waiting. This may include claiming assets that are not subject to probate, prioritizing bills and expenses, discussing any upcoming tax deadlines, and addressing other issues that you may be concerned about while waiting.
If you are interested in setting up an appointment, visit our "Practice Areas and Book Appointment" page to schedule online or call us at 267-625-8877. We are offering in-person, video, and telephone meetings to accommodate your needs.
We are here to ease your anxiety and concerns during this difficult time. Our prayers are with you.