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 Representative). 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) We can help a great deal, and we encourage you to give us a call. Normally, we begin by preparing the Petition for Probate, and we discuss how to probate the Will at the Register’s office. We help you meet the statutory requirements associated with official estate publications and send the requisite certified notices to the heirs and next of kin. Later, we file the required ‘Inventory of the Estate’ describing all probate assets. There are many other tasks that we assist with:
- We can help you prepare the home for sale by finding the right persons to make repairs, clean, remove trash, buy furniture and even auction valuable belongings. Since our office also handles real estate transactions of all sorts, whether the primary residence, second or third home, we can handle the sale from start to finish. We can also assist with any landlord-tenant issues or arrange for the management of the property until it is sold.
- Every estate in the Commonwealth requires the filing of an Inheritance Tax Return within nine months. If the spouse if the sole beneficiary, the tax is waived; however, if the decedent’s children are the beneficiaries, the estate is responsible for a 4.5% inheritance tax. More distant beneficiaries incur a higher percentage based upon the degree of next of kin. We ask our clients to keep records of deductible expenses in order to reduce the tax liability. Our office normally prepares the returns with the information provided.
- Most estates are concluded with the drafting of a ‘Family Settlement Agreement’ which delineates the distribution among the heirs and requires an executed consent to their allocation. This eliminates concerns on the part of the Personal Representative related to possible lawsuits against him or her for mismanagement of the funds.
- 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 clients’ interests through skillful negotiations and, if necessary, litigation.
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 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 help the Administrator avoid a lawsuit against him or her for mismanagement of the estate.
What About Reducing Taxes?
- We implement the tax planning devices utilized by the decedent such as credit shelter 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 savings 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 to 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 even video 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.
Contact our probate lawyers for an initial consultation
Arrange a free initial probate consultation at our Newtown, Pennsylvania office. Call Dumont & Watson P.C. at 267-757-8710 or contact us online.