PROBATE AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION LAWYERS
Making the Complicated Simple for you
Our practice is designed to help you with the complicated matters associated with an estate. If you have been named as the Personal Representative (Executor) of a loved one’s Will, we help you fulfill your duties as the fiduciary (the responsible person) as required by Pennsylvania law and the rules of your county. (see the Duties of the Personal Representatives). We serve in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Philadelphia Counties, all of which have their own rules. In doing so, we strive to honor the wishes of your loved one, and complete the tasks required of the Personal Representative. If you live outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we help in a strategic way to permit probating the Will remotely-all for your convenience.
What Are Your Next Steps?
You may be faced with a daunting array of tasks associated with the estate. (See the Duties of the Personal Representative). After filing the Petition for Probate, the Register of Wills schedules the execution of the Petition and will require the payment of probate fees based upon the information provided. The Commonwealth requires the publication of the matter in two newspapers to place creditors on notice and begins the tolling requirements for their claims. We also assist by providing the requisite notices to heirs and next of kin. The Commonwealth requires the filing and of an inventory of assets, and an Inheritance Tax Return is required within nine months of the date of death. While a surviving spouse pays no inheritance tax, the Personal Representative is responsible to pay the tax on inheritances received by other heirs depending on their relationship to the decedent. Our office works with you to reduce the tax to the extent possible and arrange for a discount under certain circumstances.
Larger estates require the filing of a federal estate tax return, and this can be most important to preserve portability upon the death of the first spouse.
Most estates are concluded with the drafting of a Family Settlement Agreement which delineates distribution among the heirs based upon the consent of all the beneficiaries. This eliminates concerns on the part of the Personal Representative related to possible lawsuits against him or her for mismanagement of the funds. When there is a failure of consent, the Representative must file an Accounting to demonstrate to all concerned that the matter has been handled professionally.
Probate disputes arise when potential heirs disagree regarding the testator’s true intent, capacity to execute the Will, or undue influence by an heir. With an experienced probate attorney on your side, you can navigate these issues successfully. We work to protect our client’s interests through skillful negotiations and, if necessary, litigation.
Since our office also handles real estate transactions of all sorts, we can assist with the sale of the decedent’s home.
What If There Was No Will?
If a person dies without a Will, the Register of Wills must appoint an individual as “Administrator” to perform the same duties normally handled by the Personal Representative. Such an individual is usually a family member or friend who is willing to undertake the responsibility and to complete all the tasks required by the Commonwealth. We assist the Administrator to complete all the requirements associated with publications, notices to next of kin, inventory, Inheritance Tax payments, accounting, and notice of adjudication.
What About Reducing Taxes?
- We implement the tax planning devices utilized by the decedent such as credit shelter trusts, disclaimer trusts, and testamentary trusts for children. We recommend ways to ensure tax savings and discounts on inheritance taxes and assist in preserving the trust and estate assets. Even if the decedent failed to do any tax planning, we can advise clients with respect to certain post-mortem estate and income tax planning to maximize tax-saving techniques.
- In some cases, decedents fail to name beneficiaries on their IRAS, 401(K)s or 403(b)s leaving the asset to the estate by default. This issue if fraught with important tax implications which need to be addressed.
In all these cases, we endeavor the handle your case in the least costly and most efficient manner, and our fees are paid by the estate rather than by the personal representative. We handle communication with you by phone, email, and zoom conferences for those who are some distance away.
Our experienced attorneys give detailed advice to help Personal Representatives and beneficiaries to understand the probate process and take effective action.
PRINCETON ESTATE ADMINISTRATION AND PLANNING LAW FIRM
Helping your family plan
With 60years of combined experience, the attorneys at Dumont & Watson, P.C. Posses in-depth knowledge about all aspects of estate planning and can help you with:
- Creating an estate plan while avoiding the pitfalls
- Drafting simple and complex Wills to reduce estate taxes
- Establishing credit shelter trusts to make sure your children aren’t disinherited
- Drafting disclaimer trusts
- Using Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
- Revocable Living Trusts
- Guardianship and conservatorship
- Durable Powers of attorneys, health care proxies and advance health care directives
Creating the best estate plan
Our attorneys review your family situation, financials, and philosophical goals to advise you on the best approach to planning your estate. We thoroughly analyze and strategize the best means of:
- Transferring your assets
- Minimizing taxes
- Establishing guardianship for your minor children
- Supporting philanthropic causes
- Protecting your love ones with trusts
Writing your Last Wil and Testament
A Will provides you with the opportunity to distribute your property establish care for your loved ones and otherwise express your wishes upon your death. A Will is especially necessary if you intend to leave property to somebody besides a blood relative, such as a domestic partner, friend or charity. If you die without a Will, state statutes determine how your property is distributed and a court may determine who care for your minor children and even what happens to your beloved pet-decisions that might not reflect your desires our attorneys can draft an estate plan that ensures your intentions are honored.
Establishing a trust
Our attorneys evaluate whether specific legal tools can benefit your estate and discuss your many options, including living trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, credit shelter trusts, special needs trusts, disclaimer trusts and qualified personal residence trusts all of which may benefit your family or save taxes.
If you have been named as an Executor or Trustee, you may have many questions as to the administration of the Estate. (See the Duties of the Personal Representative link) We can assist in this important task by managing the estate, providing postmortem planning to reduce estate taxes and preparing the Estate and Inheritance tax returns. In addition, the firm is experienced in Probate Litigation – – both in representing the Executor and beneficiaries.
Preparing inheritance tax returns
When someone dies, the County requires the filing of an Inheritance Tax Return, and in many cases also requires the payment of tax depending on the relationship of the decedent and the beneficiaries. Payment must be made within nine months of the date of death. With proper planning, the firm can in certain cases, arrange for a discount of the tax and manage to reduce the payment based upon a number of factors. Our firm maintains a detailed inventory of assets and obligations so that crucial payments are not missed. When Federal Estate Taxes are a concern, our lawyers will prepare the returns on your behalf.
Drafting your living trust
We can draft a Revocable Living Trust which serves as a substitute for a Will that avoids the hassles, expenses, complications and delays associated with probate – – either in Pennsylvania or in any other jurisdiction. Clients who own names in other states can avoid an ancillary (second) probate action in that state with a living trust.
Choosing a guardian for your child
When devising your estate plan, the care of your children is likely your foremost concern. We advise you on making crucial decisions about the financial support, protection and well-being of your children — including naming a guardian who will raise your children according to your parental philosophies.
Contact a New Jersey trusts and estates lawyer to protect your assets
Dumont & Watson, P.C. are located in Princeton, NJ, Newtown, PA, and Red Bank, NJ and represents clients throughout New Jersey, including Princeton, Hamilton, Trenton, Pennington, East Windsor, West Windsor, Plainsboro, Lawrenceville, Hopewell, North Brunswick, Edison, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Montgomery, Skillman and Hillsborough, and Mercer, Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Burlington counties. We also represent clients in Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, including Washington Crossing, Yardley, Lower Makefield, Upper Makefield, Bensalem, Solebury, New Hope as well as other locations in Bucks County.
Call Dumont & Watson, P.C. at 609-688-8400 or contact the firm online to schedule your consultation.