Generally speaking, in order to be appointed as the Personal Representative, your attorney or an agent in the Register’s Office will complete a petition for your appointment. You will need to bring with you to the Register’s Office a government issued photo identification, the original Will (if there is one), an original death certificate, and a check to cover the initial probate fees. In some counties, personal checks (except those of an attorney) are not accepted. In this case, you need a credit card or a bank certified check.
If there is no Will, you will also need to bring original signed and notarized Renunciations from each person entitled to receive a share of the Decedent’s Estate. The individuals entitled to receive a share of the Estate of a Decedent who dies without a Will depends upon the number of relatives and their relationship to the Decedent. Determining the identity of the individuals who are entitled to receive a share of the Decedent’s Estate can be a bit tricky. An attorney can assist you in this determination. It is important to establish who these individuals are early on and before you meet with a representative in the Register’s Office.
Each individual who is entitled to a share of the Decedent’s Estate, and who will not be serving as the Personal Representative, must complete a renunciation form in favor of the person who is being proposed as the Estate’s Personal Representative. This form needs to be presented to the Register of Wills before the Estate is opened. In addition to the renunciation form, certain heirs may need to present the Register with additional documentation that establishes their relationship to the Decedent. For example, if a renunciation form is signed by an individual whose last name is different than that of the Decedent, it may be necessary to present the Register with proof of the heir’s relationship to the deceased person. This may include a marriage certificate or birth certificate. The documentation required will vary, depending upon the circumstances.
There are certain probate fees that need to be paid to the Register before the Estate is opened. The amount of these fees will vary in each Estate and depends upon a number of factors, such as the size and composition of the Estate’s assets and the county in which the Estate is opened.
In some cases the Executor will be required to post a bond before or shortly after the Estate is opened.