Helping Seniors & Families
Plan For Their Future
Feasterville, PA
215.396.1001
Doylestown, PA
215.345.5858

Probate and Estate Administration

Estate Planning Management

Estate Administration

Estate Administration is the process of managing the estate of a person after he or she dies.  It involves collecting all the decedent’s assets, paying all of his or her debts, including taxes, and distributing the decedent’s assets to the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate.

The administration of the estate can be completed either formally or informally.  Under the formal method, the Personal Representative prepares and files with the court an accounting of his or her administration.  Notice is given to all interested parties and they have the opportunity to appear before the court and object to the accounting.  After the court issues its decree, the Personal Representative distributes the assets to the beneficiaries.

Under the informal method, the Personal Representative prepares a Family Settlement Agreement and informal accounting.  Once all the beneficiaries and any other necessary parties have signed the agreement, the Personal Representative can distribute the assets and avoid the additional costs and delay of a formal accounting.

Probate

Probate is the process of proving that the decedent’s will is valid.  The Personal Representative begins this process by filing a petition for probate at the Register of Wills Office in the country where the decedent lived when he or she died.

If the decedent owned no probate assets at the time of his or her death, then probate may not be necessary.  Generally, probate assets are assets that are titled in the decedent’s name alone.  If the decedent owned only a joint bank account, and an IRA or life insurance policy with designated beneficiaries, these are considered non-probate assets and do not have to go through probate.

If you die without a Will, the Government of Pennsylvania will determine who received your property.  In most cases, the laws direct that the assets go to the spouse, children, and other family members.  However, by creating a Will, you can specifically designate whom you want to receive your assets when you die.

Personal Representative or Executor

A Personal Representative (often called an Executor) is the person who is designated to manage the Estate Administration process.  Their responsibility includes initiating the Estate Administration process, notifying all interested parties, managing the assets, paying all of the estate’s debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.  The Personal Representative works closely with the attorney throughout the process.  The Personal Representative can be paid a reasonable fee for his or her time and effort in administering the estate.

In most cases, the Personal Representative will not be personally liable for any estate expenses, including the payment of taxes.  You would, however, as part of your fiduciary duty, be responsible for paying all estate expenses from the assets of the estate.  If there are not enough assets to pay all estate expenses, the Government of Pennsylvania determines the priority of the expenses to be paid.

Have you been appointed as someone's executor or administrator? If so, we can assist you in the proper handling of the estate.