Philadelphia, PA -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/05/2013 -- Personal Representatives (i.e. Executors and Administrators) engage the estate attorneys in Montgomery County, PA at L & M Law, LLC to assist them with probate shortly after a person’s death. Frequently, L & M Law’s estate lawyers in Montgomery County are asked what to expect throughout the estate administration process. The attorneys at L & M Law are available to assist with the estate administration process in Montgomery County, PA. The following is also a brief overview of the probate process in Pennsylvania.
1. Filing for Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary to have a Personal Representative appointed:
If the decedent dies with a Will, the person who is named Executor under the Will files a Petition for Letters Testamentary to become the appointed Executor of the Estate. If the decedent dies “intestate,” meaning without a Will, the decedent’s next of kin files a Petition for Letters of Administration with the Register of Wills to become the appointed Administrator of the Estate. However, if complications arise during this initial process, the estate attorney can counsel their client to accomplish their goal of being appointed as the Personal Representative.
2. Complying with Notice Requirements to the Beneficiaries and Interested Parties of the Estate:
The Executor or Administrator is legally required to notify beneficiaries and interested parties of the estate administration while it is in process. Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Rule5.6. outlines who must receive notice and when they must be notified.
3. Advertising the Estate:
The Personal Representative is also legally required to advertise the estate by requesting that all persons having claims against the estate make their claims known to the Personal Representative or his attorney, and that all persons indebted to the decedent make payment to the Personal Representative.
4. Marshalling the Decedent’s Assets:
The Personal Representative has the legal authority to secure and collect the decedent’s assets as well as ascertain the extent of the decedent’s debts.
5. Inventory of the assets of the decedent’s estate:
This document must be filed with the Register of Wills within nine (9) months from the date of death of the decedent. The inventory is a statement of the probate property and the value of such property on the date of the decedent’s death.
6. Preparing and Filing the Appropriate Death and Income Tax Returns:
The following are the death and income tax returns prepared by L & M Law’s estate planning attorneys in Montgomery County:
State Death Tax Returns
-The Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return (Rev-1500) is due within nine (9) months from the date of death of the decedent. This return reports the assets and debts of the decedent. Depending on the relationship of the decedent to the beneficiary, inheritance tax may be due to the Commonwealth. The Personal Representative is responsible for ensuring the filing of these returns, as well as the filing of the decedent’s Final Income Tax Returns (IRS Form 1040 and PA-40) and if applicable, the Estate’s Fiduciary Income Tax Returns (IRS Form 1041 and PA-41).
Federal Estate Tax Returns
-If the estate exceeds the Federal estate tax exemption amount, the estate must also file a Federal Estate Tax Return (IRS Form 706) and pay the associated tax, if any.
Estate Fiduciary Income Tax Returns
-The Personal Representative is responsible for ensuring the filing of these returns, as well as the filing of the decedent’s Final Income Tax Returns (IRS Form 1040, and PA-40) and if applicable, the Estate’s Fiduciary Income Tax Returns (IRS Form 1041 and PA-41).
7. Paying the Debts of the Estate:
Once the Personal Representative has an accurate accounting of the decedent’s assets and debts, and provided the estate is not insolvent, he or she may pay the debts of the estate. If payments are made without knowing all assets and debts, the Administrator or Executor puts him or herself at risk for being personally liable to the interested parties of the estate. Furthermore, personal liability also exists if the estate is insolvent and the Personal Representative made payments contrary to what is required by law.
8. Settling the decedent’s estate:
The estate may be settled informally by means of a Family Settlement Agreement between the personal representative and the beneficiaries of the estate. If the estate cannot be settled informally, a formal court proceeding, which includes filing of an account, proposed schedule of distribution and a Petition for Adjudication, may be necessary to settle the estate.
9. Distributing the Assets of the Estate to the Beneficiaries of the Estate:
After a Family Settlement Agreement is signed by the beneficiaries or an account is approved by the Orphans’ Court, the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries of the Will or the intestate heirs of the estate.
Given the complexities and risk associated with administering a decedent’s estate as required by law, it is best to consult with L & M Law, LLC’s estate lawyers in Montgomery County to be counseled through the entire process. L & M Law, LLC also offers convenient meeting locations in Bala Cynwyd, King of Prussia and Plymouth Meeting to discuss any estate planning or estate administration matter.
To hear more about their services please visit http://www.lmlawllc.com.