How to obtain an estate of decease parent

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How to obtain an estate of decease parent

Hi, I live in Philadelphia PA and my
father died suddenly the other day and I
need to access his accounts to make the
funeral arrangements he had no will and
I’m his only child. What is the process
I need to do to obtain his estate?

Asked on May 18, 2019 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You need to probate the estate to gain ownership over his assets. The first step is applying to the court to be appointed the administrator or personal representative (either term may be used) for the estate. This position is the equivalent of being the executor when there is a will. Being the administrator or personal representative will give you the legal authority to access his accounts for his debts, final expenses, and any expenses of his estate (e.g. to pay the mortgage or taxes on real estate, or a car loan, so the property is not foreclosed upon or repossessed). Contact the probate court clerk's office for informaton and forms about how to do this, and/or look at the court's website.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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