Probate, Estate Administration And Intestacy

How do I open an Estate in Chester County?

As soon as possible after the death of your loved one, it is important to locate the original will if one exists. If you can’t find one, contact your loved one’s family attorney to inquire as to whether or not they have a copy. If you have the original and/or a copy, the named Executor should contact our office to obtain the paperwork necessary to open the estate at the Register of Wills in West Chester. A Petition to Open Estate is necessary along with the Estate Information form. A filing fee based on the size of the estate will be assessed by the Register of Wills and the Executor must appear in person at the Register of Wills. Our office provides estate assistance on an hourly or percentage basis.

The responsibilities of the Executor are to gather all assets, pay all credible liabilities (including taxes) and distribute the remainder of the estate in accordance with the decedent’s last wishes. The initial contract with the funeral home must be negotiated. An estate EIN number must be obtained and the death notice published in two newspapers. An estate bank account must be opened to consolidate assets. Creditors must be notified and many times real estate must be sold, cars transferred, stocks and bonds liquidated, appraisals obtained. Notices to Beneficiaries and Status Reports will need to be filed with the Register of Wills. An inheritance tax return and final income tax return will need to be filed. If the inheritance return is filed within 90 days of the date of death, a five percent (5%) discount is granted. Sometimes there are lawsuits that need to be resolved as well. Let our office guide you through the various tasks to assure your responsibilities as Executor are completed properly and in a timely fashion.

What if there is no will?

Our law office can assist you with filing the Petition for Administration to get an estate representative appointed with the Register of Wills. Usually, this is a close family member that lives near Chester County. A filing fee based on the size of the estate will be assessed by the Register of Wills and the proposed Administrator must appear in person at the Register of Wills. The responsibilities of the Administrator are to gather all assets, pay all credible liabilities (including taxes) and distribute the remainder of the estate in accordance with the laws of intestacy. The initial contract with the funeral home must be negotiated. An estate EIN number must be obtained, the death notice published in two newspapers and an estate bank account opened to consolidate assets. Creditors must be notified and many times real estate must be sold, cars transferred, stocks and bonds liquidated, appraisals obtained. Notices to Beneficiaries and Status Reports will need to be filed with the Register of Wills. An inheritance tax return and final income tax return will need to be filed. If the inheritance return is filed within 90 days of the date of death, a five percent (5%) discount is granted. Sometimes there are lawsuits that need to be resolved as well. Let our office guide you through the various tasks to assure your responsibilities as Administrator are completed properly and in a timely fashion. Our office provides estate assistance on an hourly or percentage basis.

When does a Power of Attorney end?

If you are the agent under a Power of Attorney for your loved one, you do not have authority to act on their behalf after their death. The Power terminates at death. If there is a will, the Executor will need to be appointed at the Register of Wills and take over all accounts in the name of the decedent. If there is no will, we recommend that someone other than the agent that held the Power of Attorney petition the court to be appointed Administrator of the estate so as to clearly protect the agent and the beneficiaries, minimizing any conflict of interest. Our office can help your family through these many decisions during this difficult period so that your loved one’s estate can be distributed in accordance with their final wishes.

If you have questions about divorce or would like to discuss your Probate law case with an experienced attorney, contact the law firm of Hudson L. Voltz, P.C. at 610-518-9500.

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