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Harrisburg Probate and Estate Administration Attorney

Harrisburg Probate and Estate Administration Attorney

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Simplifying the Probate Process for Our Clients

When a loved one dies, family members are full of grief and often come together to remember the deceased. However, the probate and estate administration processes begin almost immediately. In Pennsylvania, a loved one’s estate must pass through probate, a court-supervised process for paying your loved one’s bills and transferring assets. Other administration involves managing a trust, which the deceased might have used in place of a will.

At Keystone Elder Law, P.C., our Harrisburg probate & estate administration lawyers can help anyone with these steps. Please contact our firm if you have questions. Personal representatives owe family members important duties, so it is best to obtain legal advice if you are unsure of what the law requires.

What is Probate?

Probate is the state’s method of closing a person’s estate. It is a predetermined process with steps you must take.

Probate begins with filing a petition with the Register of Wills. The will should identify who will serve as the personal representative for the estate. Some people die without a will, which means they die “intestate.” Probate is still necessary, even when a person dies intestate, and the probate court will appoint a personal representative.

The probate judge should issue letters to appoint the personal representative, who can then begin fulfilling their important duties:

  • Identifying all estate assets: The personal representative should gather these assets and keep them safe. For example, you might need to purchase insurance or continue to pay insurance to protect against damage or theft.
  • Accounting for assets: The personal representative is the “eyes and ears” of the probate court. They must account for all estate assets and estimate their value.
  • Paying valid creditor claims: The personal representative is responsible for paying the decedent’s outstanding debts. They use estate assets. If the claim is invalid, the creditor must reject it.
  • Distributing assets: A will should state who will inherit the estate assets. The personal representative must arrange for transferring deeds or titles and physically handing over assets.
  • Paying taxes: The personal representative must pay the taxes for the decedent and possibly pay estate taxes.

Non-Probate Assets

Estate administration is more than probate. Some people die with non-probate assets, such as a living trust or retirement accounts. These assets do not go through probate, but they might still require administration.

For example, a trustee should follow the terms of the trust, which might involve transferring ownership of assets to beneficiaries. In other cases, a trustee must continue to manage the assets of beneficiaries.

Legal Issues Involved with Probate & Estate Administration

Keystone Elder Law, P.C., can help family members and personal representatives with any legal issues that arise during estate administration:

  • Questions whether a will or trust is valid—The decedent might have lacked the capacity to create a will, or the will is missing key information. Family members might challenge these documents and ask the court to set them aside.
  • Issues regarding asset collection and safekeeping—The decedent might have loaned a car to someone who doesn’t want to give it back. The representative might need to take legal action to recover estate assets.
  • Appointment of the personal representative—Arguments might arise if the person nominated in a will cannot serve or if there was no will. Family members might fight among themselves about who should serve.
  • Creditor disputes—An alleged creditor might submit a questionable claim. They could initiate a legal claim against the estate if the claim is rejected.
  • Wrongful death issues—If your loved one died in an accident, then the representative might file a legal claim in probate for compensation.
  • Asset liquidation—The estate might not have enough cash to pay all creditors, in which case the personal representative must liquidate assets to free up cash. Sometimes the personal representative is unsure of what assets to sell because they will be denying a beneficiary from inheriting the asset.
  • Disputes over fiduciary duties—The personal representative must follow the instructions in the will and cannot engage in self-dealing. Family members might wish to challenge actions made by the representative.

Keystone Elder Law can help anyone serving as a personal representative with these issues. We can also advise family members of their rights.

Speak with Our Lawyers Today

Probate is often confusing. Many family members are unsure of what to do, and the clerk court is not a legal advisor. If you have questions, please contact Keystone Elder Law, P.C., today to speak with a member of our team. We have helped clients with countless probate issues, and we are eager to hear your questions.

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Comprehensive Interdisciplinary Approach

Empowering Clients with Holistic Planning at
Keystone Elder Law

At Keystone Elder Law, we believe that the physical, social, legal, and financial considerations of our clients all intertwine. We utilize an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate each area, which allows for the creation of a plan that addresses the concerns of the individual as a whole as well as the family. To this end, our model of practice includes a Care Coordinator (usually a nurse or social worker), whose expertise complements our team of attorneys.

When the road of life is smooth, decisions about legal and financial matters are easy to push aside for “a rainy day.” Planning ahead, however, will allow for more options as you view the map of where you’ve been and where you want to go. Don’t let a crisis limit your choices or derail your plans.

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