CHANGES TO THE PROBATE PROCESS DURING THE PANDEMIC
Dealing with the death of a loved one is always an extremely challenging time, and even more so during the current pandemic. Typically, when an estate needs to be opened the personal representative, either the Executor named in a Will or the Administrator if there is no Will, goes into the local Register of Wills Office in the county where the decedent resided – and generally no appointment is required. The restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 have changed the normal probate procedures in many counties.
While businesses, including government buildings, are slowing starting to reopen many are continuing to operate on a virtual platform. The local Register of Wills offices are no exception. Each county’s procedure is slightly different; however, the following is a brief overview of how Philadelphia and the surrounding counties are operating during the pandemic:
In Philadelphia, the Register of Wills Office is accepting probates on an in-person, appointment only, basis. Virtual probates are being offered on an emergency basis only.
Both virtual probates and in-person probates, both by appointment only, are being offered in Delaware County. However, the Register of Wills Office has indicated that they prefer the virtual process for the time being.
The Chester County Register of Wills is accepting in-person probates by appointment only. While they are offering a virtual probate option, it is currently only being used under extenuating circumstances.
At the present time, only virtual probates are being offered by the Montgomery County Register of Wills.
Even with the significant changes, the probate process is proceeding seamlessly. If you are in need of assistance opening an estate, or have questions about the process, please contact our Trusts & Estates department at (610) 648-9300 and we would be happy to assist.