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Probate and Estate Administration Archives

Where to probate out-of-state property

Every executor comes to the estate administration process with a different amount of estate administration experience. Many people have no estate administration experience at all. Others have administered one or two estates before, and some have lots of experience with administering estates. Given the varying levels of experience people have, it is important that estate executors be familiar with the various duties and obligations of their position.

Legal help with Pittsburgh probate issues

Probate is something that many Pittsburgh residents are loath to consider because it is an acknowledgement of the inevitable end to their lives. However, this is something that is an integral part of taking care of loved ones after they have passes and should not be ignored. After a person has died, it can also be an issue. Those who have been designated as the executor in a will need to know that probate and probate litigation is something that arises frequently and it is preferable to take steps to have everything organized when planning.

What is the Probate and Estate Administration process?

Probate and estate administration after a loved one passes away may not be fun for Pittsburgh residents; however, for those who take the time to make an estate plan and have a Will prepared, it will be easier for the people left behind. When a person dies with Will and assets in his or her name, the Will is offered for probate at the Register of Wills office. The Will should name an Executor, who is the person that will handle probate and estate administration. Although you have named someone to handle this important job, you may not fully understand what is involved.

What is Probate?

Probate of a Will may be necessary if a person dies owning assets in his or her name alone and has a Last Will and Testament, which indicates what is to be done with those assets following death. Probate and estate administration is the opening of the estate by a personal representative, known as the Executor, to collect the decedent's assets, to pay the decedent's debts and to settle the decedent's affairs.

What does the Executor of a Will do?

The role of an Executor of a Will is an important one, so it is important to properly select who will serve as the Executor of a Will. When you are engaging in the estate planning process, you may have questions concerning what the Executor of a Will (or Executrix if the person is a woman) does when determining who to name as the Executor. The Executor of a Will has the responsibility for ensuring that the decedent's last wishes are fulfilled concerning the disposition of his or her property and possessions. The Executor of the Will is entrusted with paying funeral expenses, the debts of the decedent, estate administration costs and Pennsylvania inheritance taxes as well as distributing the remaining property and assets according to the wishes of the decedent.

Pledged donations can become a contentious issue in estate administration

Estate planning is a very personal matter, and everybody will approach it a bit differently, depending on their financial circumstances, family situation, personal values, and life goals. For some people, estate planning will involve making significant contributions to causes they believe in, such as nonprofit organization’s whose missions they share and universities where they received their education.

Estate Administration and Unclaimed Property

After a Will has been probated and estate administration is proceeding for a decedent, it is a good idea to check out the Unclaimed Property Website of the Pennsylvania Treasury Department at It is one of the jobs of the Executor or Administrator to collect the assets of the decedent. The Executor or Administrator might not know about all of the decedent's accounts or the decedent may have missed cashing a dividend check or an insurance check from years ago. There is approximately $2.3 billion in unclaimed property. Who knows, some of these funds might belong to the decedent or might even belong to you or another family member!

Pennsylvania Inheritance Taxes

When dealing with probate and estate administration, be aware that Pennsylvania imposes inheritance taxes on the decedent's assets.  The tax rate is determined by the relationship of the decedent to the person inheriting the property (the beneficiary).  The tax rate for spouses is 0%, while lineal descendants, like children, pay 4.5%. Siblings pay a 12% tax, and the tax rate for anyone else is 15%. It does not matter where the beneficiary lives, only that the decedent was a Pennsylvania resident at the time of death. 

Probate - What is it?

Many people want to avoid Probate but are not sure what that term means. Here is a simple way to understand Probate. When a person dies owning assets in his or her name alone, an estate must be "opened" by a personal representative to handle the assets and to settle the decedent's affairs. If the decedent died with a Last Will and Testament, this Will must be filed for Probate at the local Register of Wills, along with Petition for Grant of Letters and an original death certificate.

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