Blue Bell Probate & Estate Administration Lawyers Helping Clients Navigate the Probate & Estate Administration Process
Serving Philadelphia, Chester, Lehigh, Montgomery, Delaware And Bucks Counties
The process of administering a loved one’s estate and taking it through probate may seem like an overwhelming task for many people, considering that they are already under emotional stress after the loss of a loved one. That is when making the decision to work with an estate administration and probate attorney can help you navigate the entire process more easily while avoiding common mistakes.
What is Estate Administration in Pennsylvania?
When somebody passes away, there are several steps that need to be taken in order to wrap up that person’s affairs. Tasks such as making an inventory of assets, settling any debts, paying taxes, and distributing estate assets to beneficiaries are just a few examples of activities a personal representative of an estate is expected to do as part of the estate administration process. Because each estate is unique, the estate administration process can look a little different–factors such as the existence of a valid will, the size of the estate, and whether any will dispute exists or not can all determine how the estate administration process will play out and how long it will take.
A key step of the estate administration process is taking the decedent’s assets through probate. In Pennsylvania, the probate process can vary depending on the size of the estate. Eligible estates valued at less than $50,000.00 may be eligible for a simplified probate process, which can greatly reduce the amount of time a beneficiary has to wait before receiving their inheritance.
How Does Probate Work in Pennsylvania?
Probate is a legal process in which a court oversees the activity of distributing the decedent’s assets according to a will or according to Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws if the decedent left no will. The probate process starts when the court assigns a person to be the estate’s personal representative or executor. The personal representative can be named in the will or appointed by the court. This person will be given the authority to manage the decedent’s estate, pay off debts and taxes, and divide the estate assets among beneficiaries.
The main goal of the entire probate process is to ensure fairness and honesty in the process of administering the estate and dividing assets once all tax obligations are fulfilled, and creditors are paid. The personal representative of the estate is entrusted with a fiduciary duty to act with transparency and honesty and is expected to report to the court as well as to the beneficiaries of the estate on a regular basis to show that everything is being handled properly.
What Are the Duties of a Personal Representative?
Being appointed as the personal representative of an estate is not something to be taken lightly, as you can be held legally responsible in case of any misconduct or improper handling of estate assets. The probate court will give letters of administration to the individual appointed as the personal representative. The letters let financial institutions and other entities know that this person has the authority to act on behalf of the estate.
Once the personal representative has been appointed by the probate court, he or she has a significant list of tasks to accomplish. These may include gathering the decedent’s assets and sending notices to beneficiaries and creditors, handling taxes, including filing a final tax income for the decedent when necessary, managing the estate assets, and taking the estate through the probate process. In addition, a personal representative is expected to be organized and capable of keeping good records of all financial transactions related to the estate administration process and can be asked to show complete statements to beneficiaries or the court.
It is not unusual for personal representatives to rely on the help of estate administration professionals, such as attorneys, tax professionals, and bookkeepers. The cost of hiring these professionals can be paid by the estate, and leveraging the right professional services may help the entire administration process go smoothly and be less overwhelming for the personal representative.
Why Should I Work With an Estate Administration Attorney?
Administering a loved one’s estate is no easy task–it often requires undivided attention as well as extensive amounts of work, time, and dedication. It is no surprise that many individuals appointed as personal representatives quickly find themselves in over their heads and end up making simple yet costly mistakes, such as mixing up the estate’s financial assets with their own.
Even if the person did not intend to take the estate assets for their own benefit and made an honest mistake, the consequences could be significant, as simple mistakes can leave the door open for major legal headaches. The personal representative has the duty to act in a responsible and transparent manner and can be held legally liable for any wrongdoing.
In the end, it is best to rely on the knowledge and experience of a probate and estate administration attorney who can provide the guidance you need at every step of the estate administration process. Getting it right from the start can help you make the process less overwhelming and help things move quickly while avoiding costly mistakes.
At the Pile Law Firm, PLLC, Attorney E. Nego Pile is familiar with all the intricacies of the Pennsylvania probate and estate administration process and can help clients and their families with all their estate planning, probate, and estate administration matters. If you have questions or would like to schedule a consultation, call our Blue Bell, PA office at 610-718-6368 to see how we can help.