The death of a loved one is always traumatic, whether sudden or after a long illness. We at Shah Law Group can help you carry out your loved one’s wishes as expressed in their will. If your loved one did not have a will, or the will cannot be found, we can help guide you through the necessary steps to administer their estate.
PA courts have a division dedicated to validating wills and making sure that the laws of PA are followed, in the administration of decedent’s estates. The Orphan’s Court Division of each local county court is in charge of this task.
The process of becoming an executor and distributing property under the terms of a will is called probate. If there is no will, an administrator must be appointed by the court in order to legally distribute or sell the assets of a deceased person. If you are named the executor of a will, you are required to follow the instructions of the deceased person (the “testator”) in distributing his or her assets, but in addition you are required to follow PA laws and rules relating to estate administration. This can be a long and confusing process. It is true that if all of the heirs sign a written agreement, the instructions by the testator in a will for estate distribution may be modified. However, it is important to know that there are deadlines for filing documents, such as PA Inheritance Tax Returns, and delays can be costly.
Many of your loved one’s assets may not have to pass through probate at all, including some insurance policies and some trusts. We will explain the difference between probate and nonprobate assets to you.
Almost all legal residents of Pennsylvania will be required to submit an Inheritance Tax Return. In addition, people who are not legal residents of Pennsylvania, but own homes or land there, are also required to submit an Inheritance Tax Return on that property alone. We have extensive experience with both the probate process and inheritance tax returns. Call for a consultation so we can assist you in this time of need.
Sometimes it happens that an executor or administrator does not follow the law of PA or the instructions of the testator. There are legal actions which can be taken by beneficiaries to enforce the law or the wishes of the testator. We at Shah Law Group have also had experience in estate litigation.
Do I have to use the lawyer who drafted the will as the estate attorney?
The answer is no; the executor should choose an attorney they feel comfortable with to help them administer the estate.
How much does a lawyer charge as the attorney for the estate?
There is no set fee or formula. Most attorneys today will charge for their services on an hourly basis. The old practice of charging a fixed percentage of the probate assets sometimes led to gross overcharging or undercharging for attorney services.