Estate & Trust Administration Attorneys Serving Western, PA
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things any family can endure. When you are tasked with handling their estate, it is important that you have strong legal representation every step of the way. The estate & trust administration attorneys at Heritage Elder Law & Estate Planning, LLC have the skill and experience necessary to effectively represent your interests and preserve the wishes of your loved one. Contact the experienced attorneys at Heritage Elder Law & Estate Planning, LLC today to learn more about estate administration and how our firm can help you through the process ahead.
How to Choose an Executor
The person you choose as the executor to your estate is the person that will be in charge of gathering your assets, paying off your debts, and distributing all assets that are a part of your estate. Of course, for this very reason, it is critical that you appoint someone you trust to handle your estate honestly, responsibly, and efficiently to best serve you and your family after you pass on. On the other hand, if you are an individual who has recently been appointed as the executor of someone who passed away, you will most likely need the assistance of an experienced Pennsylvania estate administration attorney who can guide you through every step of the process ahead.
What Does an Executor Do?
Executors have a huge responsibility. As the executor of your loved one’s estate, there is a very good chance that you will have to help your loved one’s estate through the probate process, which is often a complex one. Some responsibilities executors frequently have are as follows:
- Collecting their loved one’s assets
- Protecting and preserving those assets
- Paying off their loved one’s estate taxes and debts
- Distributing those assets to all beneficiaries of the decedent
- Documenting every step of the process and providing Pennsylvania courts with that documentation
- Closing their loved one’s estate
Who can be appointed administrator?
Generally speaking, anyone of legal age and who has the capacity to serve as an Estate Administrator can be appointed. In most cases, a family member or relative of the decedent undertakes the responsibility.
Probate in Pennsylvania
Generally, the first part of the estate administration process is probate. If your loved one had a will upon his or her passing, you will have to present your loved one’s will, as well as a certified copy of his or her death certificate to the Register of Wills in the county where your loved one lives. From here, the Register should give an oath of office to the executor, as well as the legal authority and documentation to make various transactions on behalf of the testator’s estate.
How to Close an Estate in Pennsylvania
Once you have completed the majority of the estate administration process as an executor, the final step is closing your loved one’s estate. There are two ways in which you may do so in Pennsylvania. To start, you may close your loved one’s estate by drafting a Family Settlement Agreement, which will list all distributions and payments made from the estate, and will generally avoid all judicial proceedings. You may take this route if all heirs agree, and though it is legally binding, any involved party who disagrees may pursue a claim against the estate.
That being said, you may also close an estate by filing an accounting with the local Orphans’ Court. When you do, you will have to bring extensive documentation regarding all of your loved one’s debts, expenses, and liabilities. From here, you will request an audit date from the court so that if any interested parties contest the estate accounting, the Orphans’ Court will hear those objections on this date. As long as everything goes according to plan, you may file a Petition for Adjudication, wherein you will ask permission to distribute all assets, pay all debts associated with the estate, and finally, close out the estate altogether.
Contact Our Estate & Trust Administration Attorneys
Whether you are ready to go through the estate administration process or you simply wish to craft your estate plan to help ensure the estate and trust administration process goes as smoothly as possible when the time comes, we are here to help. Contact Heritage Elder Law & Estate Planning, LLC today so we can get started.