Probating an Estate in Pennsylvania

Contrary to popular belief, settling an estate in Pennsylvania does not have to be a lengthy or expensive process. Utilizing an estate attorney who is familiar with the requirements can minimize the time and expense of settling an estate, while preventing unexpected problems in estate administration.

Non-Probate Assets

Many assets in an estate are not required to go through probate. Instead, there may be "payable on death" accounts, such as certificates of deposit or savings bonds, for which other procedures are necessary. Named beneficiary accounts may include an annuity, a retirement account, or life insurance. Joint accounts, such as a joint checking account or joint savings account, are also exempt from probate. Other requirements do apply, however, and it is important to understand how various estate assets are treated

Inheritance Taxes

One of the most important aspects of settling an estate is to properly plan for death taxes, such as Pennsylvania inheritance tax or federal estate tax. In addition, income tax is often a concern, particularly with retirement accounts, annuities, TIAA/CREF accounts, IRAs, and 403(b) or 401(k) accounts.

Probate and Administering an Estate

Probate is the process of obtaining authority to administer certain assets of an estate, either under a will or by the laws of intestacy. Even if an individual dies without a will, there is a system in Pennsylvania to ensure that the appropriate relatives, heirs, or next of kin receive the estate after payment of debts and taxes. Whether there is a will, administered by an executor, or an intestate estate, an attorney can assist in ensuring that the estate is distributed correctly.

Living Trusts

Similarly, many people do not realize that a living trust or revocable trust is not exempt from most requirements of estate administration. The trustee is responsible for many legal obligations, including paying debts, paying death taxes, selling assets where needed, and distributing assets to the beneficiaries. A knowledgeable attorney can assist the trustee in fulfilling these obligations cost effectively.

Avoid confusion and complications - contact an experienced estate administration lawyer today. Our office is located in Greensburg.