when is probate required pennsylvania

There comes a point in time when every resident of Pennsylvania wonders “when is probate required”.

It’s never a question anyone wants to ask.

Every year in Pennsylvania thousands of probate cases are opened up by executors or next of kin.

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate are analyzed in order to determine how assets in the estate should be distributed. For many in Pennsylvania, this process can be very long, strenuous and expensive.

To further complicate many probate cases, assets which are untitled or estates which do not have a will can leave open-ended decisions for heirs, family members, and judicial deciders.

Some cases are simple, but many are not.

This article is intended to be used as a guide by probate executors, next of kin and other heirs of estate in order to determine what type of probate is needed…or if probate proceedings are needed at all.

The content here will also cover many different aspects of probate which are not limited to the type of assets, debts of the descendant, and any inheritance tax associated with the estate.

If you’re in the middle of a probate right now and you’re wondering how to streamline or minimize the cost of it, then my team and I would be happy to take a look and help you understand some things you can do to improve and expedite the process.

Although we specialize in purchasing real estate that is tied up in probate, we can also connect you to legal professionals and advisors in case further assistance is needed. 


  • Probate in Pennsylvania is dauting and many executors of inherited estates often find the process to be expensive and challenging.
  • Real property, such as homes, buildings or land, tied up in probate can be problematic.
  • Probate in Pennsylvania is only required if assets are solely owned by the deceased and the overall value of property exceeds $50,000

Table of Contents

How To Avoid Probate In Pennsylvania

There are many different ways you can avoid probate in Pennsylvania.

A lot of the strategies that you’ll hear from tax professionals, attorneys, and other estate planners are really focused around putting in place proactive and protective measures.

In simpler terms:

You need to plan to avoid probate before probate is required.

how to avoid probate pennsylvania

If you’re reading this article, you may in fact already be faced with an unfortunate situation that is calling for a probate.

Many of the tactics that I can share here are things that you would have needed to do before the deceased person’s assets come into consideration.

For example, some common estate planning techniques could involve:

  1. Living trusts
  2. Jointly owned/deeded property
  3. Rights of survivorship
  4. Designated beneficiaries
  5. Transfer agreements

In Pennsylvania specifically, these these tactics are used to avoid costly and lengthy probate proceedings.

If no planning has been done to avoid probate in Pennsylvania, there may be expedited options for smaller estates with asset values less than $50,000. However, the deceased persons assets may not always be small enough to qualify.

Real estate is a very common asset that gets tied up in probate in Pennsylvania. If your loved ones have passed and real property sits in their name without any other living co-owners to claim, then that real estate must go through probate before you, an heir or executor of the estate, can liquidate or access it. 

A very common mistake when selling real estate owned by a deceased person, is for the administrator of the estate to delay the process and not get started immediately after death.

How Long Does Probate Take In Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania probate proceedings can take as long as a year before they settle.

The time it takes for a typical probate case to settle depends on many factors such as complexity of the estate, cooperation of the executor and personal representatives, as well as any other factors related to creditors or claimants of the deceased persons assets.

So how can we make that process faster?

As mentioned above, estate planning can be a fantastic tool to minimize the amount of time a probate takes or even eliminate the need for a probate at all. If the estate planning involves a will, then probate is often avoided.

By having access to the right people you can expedite your probate in Pennsylvania.

For starters, a great attorney can take care of all of the details related to the legal proceedings and other risk factors. You may also want to consult with a tax advisor as inheritance tax can play a critical role in probate proceedings.

Another fantastic resource to use during your probate is a real estate professional. 

This is not to be confused with a realtor or agent. A real estate professional can give you an unbiased review of your probate situation and make an educated recommendation for you and all of the heirs of the estate. 

These professionals, such as Signature Properties, also provide direct access to non-traditional selling options that you may need during your probate and you will not hear about from realtors or agents. 

They can offer you a quick and seamless transaction that you helps move the probate along to completion (vs. the lengthy process of listing on market with an agent).

Do you have real estate in your probate case that you’d like to move quickly with? We can offer you cash for your property to help speed up the process, reduce legal fees and distribute the assets more effectively.

Sell Your House Fast For Cash In Pennsylvania

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Real estate professionals play a very critical role for navigating houses within a probate. This is especially true because many times the real estate that is in probate has been neglected for many years before the person passed away.

It’s very common for deferred maintenance and other property challenges that make it difficult to sell on market.

However, professional house buyers can fix this issue by making you a cash offer that is non contingent on bank financing or appraisals. This type of offer expedites the probate process saving you thousands of dollars in legal fees.

How Long Does An Executor Have To Sell A House In PA?

There’s no right or wrong answer to how long an executor has to sell a house in Pennsylvania. In fact, this process could take as short as just a few months to as long as a year or over a year – it can really depend on the entire probate process overall as well as the condition of the property being sold.

how long to sell a house in probate pennsylvania

Is very common for the court to set a date by which the property should be sold.  However, many factors come into play that actually influence how long it will really take for the property to sell.

For example:

  • Does the property have tenants living in it?
  • And do they need to move out?
  • Is there a loan in foreclosure against the property?
  • Or is the property so dilapidated that it would be difficult to sell to a new homeowner who is taking out a loan to purchase it? 

Your legal counsel should voice this to the judge as a concern if you believe it’s going to take you longer to sell the house.

If you’re worried about how much time you have to liquidate the house and complete the probate process, consider calling in a real estate home buyer

Home buyers are really useful in this type of situation because they can offer you cash and close very quickly. They also don’t mind the condition of the property because they typically come in and make repairs and renovations themselves.

Sell Your House Fast For Cash In Pennsylvania

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Probate Requirements in Pennsylvania FAQs

Is probate necessary in Pennsylvania if the deceased person owned a house?

Probate is often required if the deceased person owner property in Pennsylvania. If the house was singularly titled to the deceased, the deceased person does not have a will and the property is worth more than $50,000 then it will most likely qualify for a probate.

How long does the probate process take for a house in Pennsylvania?

The duration of the probate process for a house in Pennsylvania is not set in stone. Depending on the complexity of the estate and any disputes that arise, it can really vary quite a bit. For example, it’s not uncommon for the process to take several months in certain cases that are clean and easy and then over a year for others that are more complex.

Can a house be sold during the probate process in Pennsylvania?

A house can be sold during the probate process, but only after court approval. The executor of the estate will need to file for a petition with and solicit permission before any sale can take place.

What happens to a house if there is no will in Pennsylvania?

In cases where there is no will, the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to the state law. For real property, it is very typical for it to go to the closest living relatives.

Can a house be transferred outside of probate in Pennsylvania?

Real estate can be transferred outside of probate in Pennsylvania through proactive estate planning tools such as: joint ownership, trusts, or transfer on death deeds. However, it’s important to engage with an attorney to ensure that any transfer is done correctly and in accordance with Pennsylvania law.

The findings and information in this article are focused on Pennsylvania, however, it is applicable in many locations nationwide!

Best Way To Sell My House In Probate Pennsylvania

Signature Properties provides the easiest and simplest way to sell your house in Pennsylvania. We buy houses through fair and honest cash offers.🙂 Whether you are avoiding the bank from foreclosure, coming into an inheritance, going through divorce or any other situation – we have real estate solutions to get you the outcomes you desire when you sell your house to us. We help homeowners with costly home repairs, mounting liens, code enforcement violations and even vacant homes. Are you trying to sell your house in surrounding areas or other counties and states near Pennsylvania? We buy properties in New Jersey and Delaware as well as many other towns! In fact, we buy homes all over Pennsylvania. Come find out why selling to an investor is becoming the newest and best way to sell your house in Philadelphia in 2023 and beyond! And by now, the question of “when is probate required” should be a very easy one to answer.