In Pennsylvania, you are not required to hire a lawyer for probate, but the process can be complex and time-consuming. To ensure all your legal bases are covered and required petitions and forms are filed in a timely manner, seeking the counsel of experienced probate and estate lawyers can be extremely helpful. There are a few things to consider when deciding whether to hire an attorney, such as the lack of a will, size of an estate and guardianship of minor children.
How Do I Start The Probate Process?
To initiate the probate process, a petition must be filed with the Pennsylvania Register of Wills in the county where the decedent resided. For example, if your loved one lived in Media, hiring Delaware County lawyers who are familiar with the local courts may help make the process run more smoothly. Jointly owned assets, certain types of trusts and assets such as life insurance or IRA’s with beneficiary designations may not have to go through probate. A knowledgeable attorney can advise you on which assets must be included in probate.
Common Issues Involved In Probate
Even if a will is deemed valid, a beneficiary may attempt to contest it during the probate process. If a valid will is not in place at the time of a decedent’s passing, the probate process can be complicated. The estate must pass through Intestacy laws, and property is given to those who are entitled to it under the Pennsylvania Intestacy statute (typically the surviving spouse and children of the decedent); not according to the decedent’s wishes.
If there is no executor, an administrator will be appointed by the probate court to handle the estate. It is vital to keep in mind that the court also has the authority to designate a guardian for minor children if there is no will. Creating a will with a practiced attorney for wills and trusts can ensure that your legacy lives on and your children are taken care of according to your wishes.
Depending on the complexity of an estate, probate may involve extensive administrative paperwork and litigation. It is essential to understand exactly which fees and taxes must be paid, and when. The probate process is very time-sensitive, and a skilled attorney will make sure all deadlines are met to keep the process running smoothly.
There are additional circumstances that may affect probate, including:
Complicated tax situations, such as unpaid taxes
Ambiguities in a will
Disputed claims by beneficiaries
Someone contesting an executor’s appointment
Issues with disputed debts or unfinished contracts
Property bequeathed to minors who do not have an appointed guardian or trustee
The estate’s assets do not cover all debts
Out-of-state property included in the estate
A very large estate with diversified assets
Estate planning lawyers can take some of these burdens off of an executor’s or administrator’s shoulders. The process of sorting out an estate can be very emotional, and creating wills and trusts ahead of time can help your family avoid unnecessary conflict and stress. To learn more about estate planning and probate, contact our experienced Delaware and Chester County lawyers to schedule a consultation today.
Many people believe that estate planning only involves creating a Will to ensure your wishes are carried out upon your passing. Although a Will is an essential part of the process, there are many other things to consider when you are thinking about the legacy you want to leave behind. There are different types of trusts that can protect your assets and make sure your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. A Living Trust is among the most common.
What is a Living Trust?
A Living Trust is a legal document that places your assets in trust for your benefit during your lifetime, and spells out how you’d like these assets to be distributed upon your death. It can include bank accounts, investments, real estate, vehicles and valuable personal property. The most common type is a Revocable Living Trust, which may be changed or canceled at any time before your death.
How does a Living Trust work?
You name yourself as the trustee and remain in complete control of your assets, and may move them in and out of the trust as you wish. You also appoint a ‘successor trustee’ who will act as your representative upon your passing and transfer assets to your beneficiaries according to your wishes.
Your successor trustee is permitted to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. He or she can handle financial issues such as managing property, businesses and paying bills. Such details are outlined in a living trust and can be carried out without involvement by the courts. Experienced living trusts lawyers can create a document that covers all legal bases and help your loved ones avoid costly and inconvenient court proceedings.
Why do I need a living trust?
In most states, a Will must go through probate, which can be a long and arduous legal process. The probate processinvolves establishing the value of your estate, settling any debts, paying taxes and transferring assets to your beneficiaries. Probate adds extra expenses to your estate and delays the distribution of your assets. It can take nine months to two years for probate to be completed. Our Chester County lawyers and Delaware County lawyers are well-versed in drafting wills and trusts, but if your estate must go through the probate process, our seasoned attorneys can provide your family with the legal support they need.
Another advantage of a Living Trust is privacy. A Will is a public document, which means that anyone can scrutinize or contest it, including creditors. Probate also allows the public to see the details of your estate. A living trust is private, more difficult to challenge, and can help to protect your assets from creditors. A living trust is particularly valuable if you have a large amount of assets, and can keep family matters from becoming complicated after you’re gone.
Knowing that the process of settling your estate will be easier for your beneficiaries can give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out appropriately. Our skilled legal team provides estate planning services tailored to fit your individual needs. To learn more about the services we offer, contact Carosella & Associates today!