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Cost of Probate in Pennsylvania

Curious about the cost of probate in Pennsylvania? Read our guide that covers everything about Pennsylvania probate fees.

Distributing property and transferring asset ownership is necessary after the death of an estate owner. The process can often be handled through probate, which is common in the state of Pennsylvania. Probate happens in some (but not all) cases when an estate needs to be administered. While the process is similar to other states, there still tends to be questions about the average cost of probate in Pennsylvania. Simply put, cost will vary, and it will largely depend on a number of things, including:

  • Complexity and size of an estate

  • If any heirs object or contest the Will

  • What (if any) type of Estate Plans are in place  

  • Use of a probate attorney (or not)

  • Etc.

Common Probate Fees in Pennsylvania

Yes, there are a range of probate costs, but some costs are pretty common in virtually all probate proceedings. You should be prepared to pay for some or all of the following:

  • Miscellaneous court fees 

  • Various filing fees

  • Any attorney fees

  • Probate Bond, if required (a type of Fiduciary Surety Bond)

  • Personal Representative compensation - Pennsylvania is a reasonable compensation state

  • Various professional fees (Appraisers, Land Surveyors, etc.)

  • Etc. 

Common Questions About Probate in Pennsylvania

How Long Does Probate Take in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, probate can take up to a year for an average estate to be settled. Keep in mind, more complex or bigger estates can take longer.  

How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in Pennsylvania?

Because probate lawyer fees in Pennsylvania can vary, it’s difficult to offer a solid dollar figure. Many probate attorneys will bill by the hour, while others charge a flat fee. There is no statute set for attorney fees in PA, but fees are subject to review and must be “reasonable.”

How to Avoid Probate in Pennsylvania?

Some people would rather avoid probate, and with good reason. Probate can be messy, complicated, time-consuming and stressful. You might be able to avoid probate in Pennsylvania through any of the following strategies:

  • Create a Revocable Living Trust

  • Title property with Joint Tenancy

  • Properly designating beneficiaries 

  • Title assets “TOD” or “POD” (Transfer on Death; Payable on Death)

Additionally, estates with a value that doesn’t meet or exceed the “small estate” threshold in Pennsylvania can likely avoid probate entirely - or at least go through a quicker version of it. 

What is Considered a Small Estate in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, you can use a summary probate procedure when estates are worth less than $50,000 (not including funeral costs, real estate and allowable family payments). There is no Affidavit procedure in PA. 

Who Pays Probate Fees in Pennsylvania?

Probate attorney fees in Pennsylvania (and most other probate-related fees) are paid for by the estate.