When a loved one passes, family members are often left to figure out what to do next. If their loved one left a will they have to probate the will and begin to gather assets and otherwise organize the estate from beginning to end.
We provide those services on a scale within each family’s comfort zone; from day to day involvement to merely filing the proper paperwork on behalf of the estate.
We meet with clients to discuss how they want to distribute their assets when they die. We advise based upon federal and state law taking each client’s individual circumstances into consideration .
We draft wills, trusts, health care power of attorney documents and general power of attorney documents that reflect each client’s situation. Clients can either take their documents home with them or we can retain them in the office.
Estate Planning & Administration FAQ
- Gathering all the assets of your estate.
- Ensuring that all your debts, bills and taxes are paid out of the money in your estate.
- Distributing the remainder of your estate (after payment of debts, bills and taxes) in accordance with your Will.
- Holding assets or money ‘in trust’ for a beneficiary, if this is a requirement of your Will, e.g. if the beneficiary is under 18 at the time of your death.
- Dealing with all the paperwork related to your estate.
It is important to choose your executor(s) with care, as these responsibilities can be difficult for someone who is unaccustomed to dealing with official and financial matters. In certain circumstances, an executor who makes an error in carrying out these responsibilities can be held personally liable for any loss suffered by another person as a result.
It is also advisable to speak to the person you are considering appointing as an executor before naming that person in your Will, to ensure that they are willing to undertake this responsibility.
- Where does the personal representative live? The distance between where the personal representative lives and where the attorney is located can be a factor. Today’s technology makes things easier but the ability to have the personal representative meet for a quick meeting or sign documents in original signature (as opposed to a faxed or emailed signature) can be limit how quickly things get done.
- How many beneficiaries there are and where they are located? Probate will take longer if the beneficiaries live further away. It takes time to send documents back and forth to multiple beneficiaries.
- Will the beneficiaries disagree? The more beneficiaries disagree, the longer the probate process takes. Some beneficiaries even hire their own attorneys which can complicate the process and make it take longer.
- Will the Will be contested? If the Will is contested, the probate proceedings will take longer.
- Is the estate taxable? An estate that is subject to federal estate tax will most likely take longer than a nontaxable estate. The majority of estates administered in Pennsylvania are subject to PA inheritance tax.
- How complicated are the assets? The administration of the estate can be more complicated when the estate is comprised of assets such as an interest in a family business, stocks, bonds, patents, and/or copyrights. In general, the more assets, the more complicated the estate.