Probate is the process of establishing the estate of a loved one after his/her death. Administration of the estate is the collection of information, assets and debts, payment of the debts and distribution to the beneficiaries.
If you need help with matters concerning probate, contact to us at Klein, Vogin & Gold in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and we will guide you throughout the legal processes. For more information, feel free to send us a message using the inquiry form on the Contact Us page.
Probate establishes the estate. After someone dies, the process is the same whether they had prepared a last will and testament or not.
If a last will and testament was prepared, the process is simpler since individuals have been named to administer the estate and as beneficiaries of the estate.
If no last will and testament was prepared, the process will be in accordance with the law of intestate succession and the law will determine who administers the estate and who are the beneficiaries of the estate. First, the estate must be created, which requires a visit to the Register of Wills office of the appropriate county. After the Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary are granted, notice must be provided to all potential beneficiaries. Assets are collected. Debts are determined. Inheritance tax is paid and beneficiaries receive a distribution from the estate.
During probate, many issues arise, beneficiaries die, individuals argue over who will administer the estate, original documents are lost or misplaced. Sometimes, individuals contest whether or not a last will and testament is valid, at times asking if the decedent was coerced or tricked into distributing their property to certain individuals upon their death.
Many of these issues can be solved by preparing during your lifetime. Preparing a last will and testament will allow you to designate who administers your estate and who receives the benefits of your life's work.
You can include or exclude anyone with limited exception. Other than a spouse, no one has a right to inherit from anyone. Even a spouse can be excluded under certain circumstances.
Remember not all assets have to be estate assets. Naming beneficiaries on life insurance, annuities, etc. may remove the assets from probate and reduce the tax burden.
Prepare your last will and testament now. You can also take advantage of a living will, also known as an advanced health care declaration and a health care power of attorney, which will enable you to make your medical decisions before you are unable to do so and designate the person you trust to follow your wishes.