Minimize The Impact Of Probate For Your Family
When a loved one passes away, concluding their affairs can be complicated and confusing, as well as emotionally draining. With the help of an experienced Pittsburgh probate estate administration attorney, it is possible to avoid any unfair or incorrect missteps and instead end up with proper asset distribution. For more than four decades, the team at Marks Elder Law has helped their clients to interpret wills and apply estate laws and handle both routine and unusual or difficult estate situations. Assistance with estate administration can help to avoid or reduce family disputes and conflicts after death.
Setting Up Your Estate To Avoid Probate
Many people want to know how they can protect their assets from the probate process. Some assets do automatically bypass probate, including:
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance
- Funds in payable on death, or POD, accounts
- Pension plans
- Wages due to the deceased person
- Property held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship
- Assets owned jointly by spouses
The general rule is that assets that are owned only in the name of the deceased person will go through probate. However, you do have the option to set up a living trust for any assets you wish to protect. This way, you can pass your estate to your heirs without involving probate court.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Small Estate Affidavit states that estates valuing $50,000 or less, excluding real estate, can bypass the probate administration process in favor of an expedited method of distributing assets. However, any real estate within that small estate will still need to go through probate.
The Steps To Probate In Pennsylvania
For estates requiring probate, the process begins with filing a petition with the Pennsylvania Register of Wills. Notice must then be sent to the deceased’s heirs listed on their will, if a will was left, or to their statutory heirs if the estate lacks a will.
If there is no will, or the will does not name an estate executor, an executor must be appointed. The estate executor must inventory and appraise the assets of the estate and sell estate assets to pay any taxes or resolve debts of the estate. Finally, the executor distributes the remaining assets to the deceased person’s heirs.
Time for the probate process can vary depending on the estate’s value, the complexity of assets, and if a will was created. Out-of-state property, will contests and creditor disputes can further complicate and lengthen the probate process.
Handling Assets Correctly During Probate
If an estate is incorrectly handled or a will improperly interpreted, it may end up in court. These processes are always emotionally difficult and taxing, and many family relationships are strained or sometimes permanently damaged during these disputes. Having the help of an experienced estate planning attorney can help the process go more smoothly. At Marks Elder Law, we provide probate and estate administration services to diverse clients residing in Pittsburgh and Monroeville, and Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties.
We help clients through all the duties and obstacles of probate, including:
- Opening the estate and probating the will
- Probate estate court paperwork
- Inventory and valuation of assets
- Paying creditors, debts and expenses of the estate
- Filing PA Inheritance Tax, income tax, and Federal Estate Tax
- Distributing assets to heirs
- Accounting for all the transactions and financial results
- Ongoing trust administration thereafter
Work With An Experienced Probate Lawyer In Pittsburgh
With the assistance of an attorney who is familiar with the process, you can understand the probate process in Pennsylvania in commonsense terms, rather than as intimidating and foreign. Our firm provides basic to full-service handling of estates in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. We also represent out-of-state clients who are appointed as representatives of Pennsylvania estates, or who have interests as heirs or beneficiaries.
Our constant mission is to make the process as simple and stress-free as possible. When potential disputes and other challenges arise, our estate administration attorneys adapt quickly and focus on vigorously protecting our clients’ financial and personal interests. If you are not a Pennsylvania resident but were named as the executor, administrator or personal representative, or if you are a beneficiary or an heir, call us.