What to do if loved one dies with a will?

After a loved one has passed, one of the first steps to be taken is to determine if they have a will. If so, you will want to locate the original will and make sure it has been properly signed. Ideally, the will has a self-proving affidavit so that the witnesses to the will do […]

What assets will pass through the will?

Not every asset owned by a party at the time of death will pass under the direction of the will or through the laws of intestacy. It is important to understand the difference in how assets will pass to ensure proper estate planning. Probate assets, those passing through the will, are those for which there […]

Tips for Executors

An executor is the person designated to be responsible for the administration of a person’s estate. As an executor, you are required to act in a fiduciary capacity and carry out the decedent’s wishes as stated in their will. To start, the executor will need to take the will to the Register of Wills to […]

Tax Returns for Decedents

In Pennsylvania, two tax returns are likely needed following the death of an individual. First, the person’s executor or closest kin should make sure their final income tax return is completed. If the party was married at the time of death and previously filed taxes jointly with their spouse, their spouse can file on their […]

Authority for Estate Administration

The executor or administrator is the party tasked with handling the decedent’s estate. An executor is named in the decedent’s will. An administrator is appointed when the decedent dies without a will and is often the closet kin of the decedent. The executor or administrator will be sworn in as the person responsible for handling […]

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that give another individual authority to handle your financial affairs. A power of attorney can be durable, meaning that it is effective immediately upon signing, or springing, meaning that it does not become effective until the party who executed the power of attorney becomes incapacitated. In the […]

Last Will and Testament

Your will is a legal document that directs what should happen to your belongings at the time of your death. A will can generally be changed during your lifetime. A new will can be drafted if there are substantial changes to your wishes. A codicil can be used to supplement your initial will if you […]

Joint Property

It is necessary to disclose joint property owned in part by the decedent at the time of his death. Often, joint accounts will provide for the surviving account owner to retain the account, however, these accounts must still be disclosed for purposes of assessing any applicable inheritance tax. Pennsylvania assesses an inheritance tax of 4.5% […]

Inventory of Estate

An inventory must be filed with the court in the course of administering an estate. This task would be the responsibility of the executor or administrator of the estate. The inventory should identify all probate assets of the decedent at the time of death. This may require some investigation by the executor/administrator. Ideally, the decedent […]

Intestate Succession

Chapter 21 of Title 20 outlines the order in which surviving relatives would inherit from a decedent. If the decedent was married and there is no surviving issue (child) or parent, the entire estate goes to the surviving spouse. If there is a surviving parent, the first $30,000 of the estate along with half of […]