Probate Lawyers in Bucks County and Montgomery County
Probate in PA can be a contentious process. Plus, many people ask just what probate is? For instance, establishing the estate representative is one thing, but administering the estate to the satisfaction of all parties involved can be difficult. So if you're confused by the probate process, talk with a probate lawyer near you.
What is Probate Anyway?
Probate is the legal process where a representative administers an individual's estate. First, if the decedent died with a will, that will usually nominate an individual to serve as executor. Then, that individual takes the original will, a death certificate, and a Petition for Grant of Letters to the Register of Wills in the County where the decedent resided. Next, the registrar examines the will to confirm its validity. Finally, the person nominated as executor gets sworn in.
Frequently Asked Questions Surrounding Probate
Here are typical questions relating to probate. But for answers to additional questions, get in touch with a probate lawyer near you.
What If The Person Died Without a Will?
If an individual died without a will, the process is almost the same. However, the person sworn in to administer the estate is called an administrator.
Does a Probate Lawyer Become the Administrator of the Will?
Typically, the surviving spouse or those entitled under intestate laws serve as an administrator. For example, courts may appoint adult children, parents, siblings, aunts, or uncles the role.
Does Pennsylvania Require Probate?
The law requires probate if the decedent owns assets individually, including personal property and business interests. Moreover, probate assets reflect assets that pass according to the decedent's (the person who has died) will or by intestacy laws. However, if all assets are titled jointly with another living person or if all assets pass pursuant to operation of law, courts may not require probate may not be necessary. So consult with a probate lawyer near you to answer any questions you might have.
What is a Probate Lawyer, and do I Need One?
A probate attorney usually handles the process of estate administration following a person's death. For example, probate lawyers handle these tasks:
- Completes and file the necessary paperwork with the court
- Arranges for service to all the required parties
- Advises you on the next steps
- Accompanies you to court appearances
- Advises the executor on how to proceed in representing the estate
On the other hand, an estate attorney works with living clients administering their client's estates. For instance, an estate attorney prepares trusts, wills, and other relevant documents.
What Are Probate Assets?
Examples of probate assets include:
- Bank accounts
- Security accounts in the decedent's name
- Real estate titled solely in the decedent's name or as tenants in common
- Tangible personal property
- Un-cashed checks that are payable to the decedent.
After probate, the personal representative begins the process of estate administration.
What is Estate Administration?
Estate administration involves the management and distribution of the gross estate. In addition, courts may hold the executor or administrator liable for any mismanagement of the estate. A probate lawyer can give you more insights into estate administration.
Administration includes the following tasks:
- Notify the beneficiaries and potential heirs.
- Notify banks, credit card companies, and government agencies of the decedent's death.
- Find all of the decedent's assets, estimate the value and file an inventory of assets with the court.
- Close individual checking or savings accounts and open an estate account.
- Manage property until it is sold or distributed.
- Pay the estate's debts and taxes.
- Pay funeral expenses.
- Distribute assets.
- File final lifetime tax returns, inheritance tax returns, possible federal estate tax returns, and fiduciary income tax returns.
- Formal (through the court) or informal (through family settlement agreement) settlement of the estate.
Sometimes administration includes having a probate lawyer represent the estate in a will contest or other legal proceedings and filing a final accounting with the court.
What is Ancillary Probate?
Ancillary probate is a second probate proceeding when a decedent has a property to transfer in a state other than the one handling their estate. Consequently, the probate lawyers in our Doylestown and Norristown law offices dive deeply into ancillary probate to determine if it's required. Learn more about ancillary probate here.
Discuss Your Options with a Probate Lawyer
If you're looking for a probate lawyer near you in the Doylestown or Norristown areas to help administer an estate plan. For example, our nearby attorneys are keenly aware of the fine details that can go into this trying and sometimes contentious affair. So we can help answer any questions you might have about what is probate. Please call us at 610-275-0700 or visit our estate planning page for individual lawyers and attorneys and their email addresses.