Liability for Distributees and Fiduciaries
You likely know that there are many laws on the books that can have an impact on a person who steps into the role of managing another person’s estate. For this very reason, an attorney can be helpful in terms of providing guidance.
If you have not served in such a role before, it can be shocking to see that you might be held personally liable for a number of different types of issues. When you work with a lawyer, his or her work should stretch back over several years serving other people like you. This is because you want to have peace of mind that your lawyer has made working with a top priority and concern.
A Pennsylvania liability for distributees and fiduciaries attorney in Pennsylvania is strongly recommended if you have questions about whether or not you are personally liable. A distributee and fiduciary liability lawyer in Pennsylvania will help to answer your questions and provide firm grounds on which to understand various roles.
A personal representative could be held as liable to creditors for claims against the estate if the personal representative has made distributions that go against the outlined Pennsylvania probate laws.
The relevant Pennsylvania probate law is 20 Pa. C.S. 3532. If the personal representative has made distributions within one year of the advertisement of the grant of letters or following the receipt of a claim from a creditor even if a year has passed, the personal representative would be classified as having made at-risk distributions in either of these cases. Distributions made after a one-year period following published notice but prior to the notice of the claim are not classified as at-risk distributions. A personal representative is not the only individual who could have liability for issues inside an estate's management.
A distributee of any estate asset other than real property could be held liable for a creditor although a distributee is generally not liable to the creditors of the estate even for at-risk distributions. There are cases in which outside of real property, the distributee is liable to the creditor and this includes when a personal representative didn't pay a claim, when the personal representative did not file a formal account, and if the creditor presented a claim to the personal representative within a year of advertisement of letters. Furthermore, if the creditor lodged a claim with the Orphan's Court during the first year of the estate administration, then a distributee of real property is liable to a creditor. This is explained under 20 Pa. C.S. 3532B2. The support of an attorney is instrumental in identifying whether or not you are facing issues associated to liability while serving as a personal representative or as a beneficiary who has received assets from an estate. In all of these cases, it's vital to have legal representation from a lawyer who understands the common pitfalls and challenges experienced by either person in this role.
Serving as a personal representative carries with it a unique set of risks and concerns, all of which could benefit from guidance from a knowledgeable attorney. Scheduling a consultation with a lawyer sooner rather than later will give you a great deal of peace of mind in handling these types of claims and concerns. Make sure that you hire an attorney who is familiar with Pennsylvania probate laws. The probate laws can be difficult to understand, but not when you hire a lawyer as soon as possible to protect your best interests.