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Probate and Estate Administration in Pennsylvania

The process of making sure that an estate plan is carried out after death is generally referred to as “probate” (although technically “probate” is only the process of proving that a decedent’s will is valid). If you are named as an executor (personal representative) of an estate or as a successor trustee under a trust, our experienced estate attorneys and staff can help you navigate the complexities of filing required income, inheritance and estate tax returns and ensuring proper distribution of the decedent’s property. An executor or trustee can be held liable by the estate’s or trust’s beneficiaries (as well as the taxing authorities) for any mistakes, so it is a good idea to obtain the help of an experienced estate attorney as early as possible. In Venango County and Northwestern Pennsylvania, call the Dale Woodard Gent McFate Law Firm in Franklin for advice, assistance and peace of mind throughout the process of probate and estate administration in Pennsylvania.

Understanding Probate Under Pennsylvania Law

Probate is an essential legal process in Pennsylvania, initiated after a person’s death to manage and distribute their assets. This process, overseen by the Orphans’ Court in Pennsylvania, involves validating the deceased’s will, valuing assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining estate to the rightful heirs. In cases where there is no will, the estate is distributed according to Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws, which dictate a hierarchy of beneficiaries.

In Pennsylvania, probate is often necessary when the decedent owns assets solely in their name or has a beneficiary designation. Certain assets, like jointly owned property or those with designated beneficiaries (such as retirement accounts), may bypass probate and transfer directly to the co-owner or named beneficiary. The date of death value of such accounts may be subject to Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax.

Trust and Estate Administration Under Pennsylvania Law

Trust and estate administration is a more private process than probate and is not overseen by the court. A trust, created during a person’s lifetime or through a will, appoints a successor trustee who manages and distributes the trust’s assets according to the trust document. The administration process involves managing assets, paying debts, and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries as per the trust’s terms.

Estate administration, whether through probate or a trust, requires meticulous attention to legal and financial details. It involves various tasks, such as filing timely inheritance and estate tax returns, and ensuring the appropriate management and distribution of the estate’s assets.

The Role of Dale Woodard Gent McFate Law Firm in Estate Administration and Probate

Located in Franklin, Pennsylvania, and serving clients throughout Venango County and Northwestern Pennsylvania, Dale Woodard Gent McFate Law Firm is well-equipped to assist estate executors and successor trustees. Our team of probate and estate administration lawyers brings extensive knowledge and diligence to the table, ensuring that executors and trustees fulfill their duties effectively.

Assistance in Filing Tax Returns and Managing Estate Assets

One of the critical roles our attorneys play is in helping executors and trustees file the necessary tax returns on time. This process includes assisting in preparing and submitting federal and state income tax returns and with tax professional inheritance tax returns, and, if applicable, federal estate tax returns, preparation and filing. Missteps in this area can lead to significant legal and financial consequences.

Ensuring Proper Distribution of Assets

Our attorneys guide executors and trustees in the proper distribution of the decedent’s property. This task requires a thorough understanding of the will or trust document, as well as the intricacies of Pennsylvania estate law. Our expertise ensures that assets are distributed to the beneficiaries as intended, adhering to all legal requirements.

Protecting Executors and Trustees from Liability

An executor or trustee can be held liable by beneficiaries and taxing authorities for mistakes made during the administration process. This liability can include personal financial risks if the estate or trust assets are mismanaged. At Dale Woodard Gent McFate Law Firm, we understand the importance of protecting our clients from such liabilities. We provide meticulous oversight and legal guidance throughout the process, ensuring compliance with all legal obligations and safeguarding the interests of our clients.

Expert Advice and Assistance With Probate and Estate Administration in Venango County and Northwestern Pennsylvania

Navigating the complexities of estate administration and probate in Pennsylvania requires skilled legal assistance. Dale Woodard Gent McFate Law Firm, with its deep expertise in estate and trust law, stands ready to assist clients in Franklin, Venango County, and Northwestern Pennsylvania. Executors and trustees can rely on our experienced, knowledgeable, and diligent probate lawyers to guide them through every step of the estate administration process, ensuring compliance and peace of mind. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us online or call 814-432-2181 for immediate assistance.

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