Disclaimers vs Renunciations

Disclaimers and renunciations are forms that can impact the administration of an estate. As is true with all legal paperwork, the best policy is to consult with an attorney before signing. If you elect not to consult with an attorney, at least be aware of the purpose of each form. A renunciation is used where […]

Avoiding Probate

Probate is the process wherein a decedent’s will is presented to the appropriate county office and the named executor is formally sworn in to handle their estate. Probate can also occur if a decedent passes without a will in which case their next of kin can apply to serve as the administrator of their estate. […]

What to do if loved one dies without a will?

If a loved one has passed away without a will, the laws of intestacy will govern how their estate is handled. The closest kin can apply to the Register of Wills to be designated as the administrator of the estate. Other kin of the same degree may need to renounce their right to serve. The […]

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 […]

Transfer of Real Property

A deed is the legal document to record an interest in real property. This is distinguishable from a mortgage which directs who is financially responsible for payments on a loan secured by real property. It is possible to be on a deed or a mortgage but not both. To the extent you are transferring ownership […]

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 […]

Production of a Will        

The initial step in the probate process is for the executor to produce the last will and testament of the decedent. The original copy of the will should be produced before the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death. If the original cannot be located, it may […]

Identifying Marital Property in your Divorce

Marital property is defined as assets or debts acquired during the marriage. Marital property is subject to equitable distribution between the parties as part of a divorce action. There is a process to acquire information on potential marital property if you are unsure of what assets and debts would comprise marital property in your case. […]

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% […]