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Administering the Estate

An administering the estate Pennsylvania probate lawyer can help you in understanding a fiduciary's main responsibilities. An administering the estate lawyer in Pennsylvania will also assist you if you believe you have grounds to initiate a legal claim against an estate fiduciary who has acted outside of his or her bounds.

When an estate is going through administration, it can be hard for beneficiaries to realize that the representative has the major power and role here. Beneficiaries might want to see a timely close of the estate, but the details involved can be very complex.

The primary duties of a personal representative are to secure the estate assets, administer the estate assets, and distribute the estate assets according to 20 Pa. C.S. 3311. Securing and marshalling the estate assets refers to identifying the assets of the decedent, including those that are difficult to identify, like savings bonds, a book entry stock or unclaimed property.

What happens if you aren’t sure what to do next, though? This can be a big problem and headache for a person trying to meet necessary legal obligations.

A review of the most recent property tax receipts and recent income tax return as well as a review of the decedent’s incoming mail can help a personal representative newly appointed, to identify the decedent's assets. A personal representative is responsible for consolidating all estate assets and cataloging them with an estate inventory before they can be appropriately administered. An administering the estate attorney in Pennsylvania will also help guide a person through this process of what happens after collecting the asset. A personal representative should then file the final income tax returns, the federal estate tax return and the Pennsylvania inheritance tax return if necessary. Furthermore, the personal representative should use his or her best efforts to identify and settle out any debts before distributing estate assets to beneficiaries. Finally, once all of these other elements have been completed, comes the distribution of the assets inside the estate. Usually one year following the grant of letters, a personal representative has completed the other tasks that would enable him or her to proceed with final estate asset distribution. Pecuniary legacies and specific bequests will bear interest at a rate of 5% from the decedent’s death until final payment for those amounts bequeathed in trust and when not in trust for a year after the person's death until payment of the legacy, unless otherwise waived. This is outlined under 20 Pa. C.S. 3543.

An executor, for that reason, should keep careful track of all of these assets and consider making advanced distributions to satisfy bequests in order to avoid the accrual of interest after reserving appropriate assets to pay any taxes or debts due. It can be extremely complicated to serve in the role of probate administrator and the support of a knowledgeable attorney over this time is extremely helpful. Identifying a lawyer who has served in this role before will give you a great deal of peace of mind as you move through the probate administration process and an attorney should be hired sooner rather than later.

If you find out that the executor in your case went ahead and took actions outside of the scope of his or her duty that could be considered illegal or unethical, you must make sure that your evidence is strong. The information you present to the court should be compelling and clear in order to hold this person accountable in full. Only a judge can make a decision about whether the lines were crossed.

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