What Documents Are Required to Start Probate?

The process of estate administration is a step-by-step process. Estate administration can be delayed due to lack of documents or incorrect information. It is important to anticipate what documents you will need to start probate to avoid delays in the later stages.


If you want to become the estate executor or administrator, our office will need certain documents to begin representing you. You should begin collecting these key documents right away. Securing the documents will help prevent delays or permanent loss of important documents. For example, if the original Will is lost, it will be necessary to file a petition with the court to permit introduction of a copy of the Will. These types of delays and costs can be avoided by taking proper precautions.


Which documents should I obtain?


We recommend that you start by obtaining at least two original death certificates and securing the original Will. An original death certificate is required to open an estate and obtain appointment as the representative. The Will must also be turned over to the Register of Wills at the time the estate is opened.


If there is no Will, it is important to talk with the family members about who should be appointed as the personal representative of the estate. Each heir will have to nominate a person by signing a Renunciation in favor of the nominated person. If any heir will not cooperate by signing a Renunciation, a petition can be filed citing the uncooperative heirs.


If you are the proposed administrator and have a different last name than the deceased, make sure you have birth certificates, death certificates and marriage licenses to prove your relationship to the deceased. The court often requires these documents to prevent estate fraud.


Next, write down the names and addresses of all family heirs or the beneficiaries under the Will. The contact information will be helpful in preparing the court filings.


Finally, create a list of all of the deceased’s assets and debts and documents supporting the assets and debts. Some examples include bank account statements, mortgage statements and funeral expenses and other recently paid bills.


We can help you avoid delays.


There are many more steps to estate administration but gathering these items will assist our office in moving your case forward.


As a probate law firm for estate executors, we help settle estates efficiently and reduce stress. If you know someone faced with a probate process or roadblocks to an estate property sale, please have them contact us for a free evaluation at:


Phone: (215) 918-4242 

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If you are not quite ready for a consultation, download our probate handbook HERE. We’ll send you helpful probate guides and resources so you know how to handle the estate.