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Probate and Estate Administration Archives

What is probate?

Probate - what is it? Much has been said on the Pittsburgh Elder Law Blog about the importance of creating a valid Will. Probate is the process through which the decedent's Last Will and Testament is filed of record with the Register of Wills office and authenticated. If the Will has been witnessed, usually by two (2) people, the witnesses may have to come in to authenticate the decedent's signature or to sign Affidavits and have them notarized. However, if the Will has been notarized, it is "self-proving," which means that the witnesses do not have to appear or execute Affidavits. Letters Testamentary are then issued by the Register of Wills to the Executor or Executrix named in the Last Will and Testament.

The role and responsibility of an executor

In probate and estate administration, being the executor is a serious responsibility for Pittsburgh residents. An executor is the personal representative of the estate. It is the executor's responsibility to protect the decedent's assets, including the home, until probate is complete, and the assets are disbursed to the beneficiaries. Generally, an executor has just earned this title after the death of a loved one, which can be an emotionally difficult time. The added responsibility may be overwhelming without any knowledge of how to proceed, which is why it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced estate attorney.

Franklin's death without a will leaves estate tangle

The death of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, left a void in the music industry, with Pittsburgh residents, along with the rest of the country, playing her songs and watching her funeral with tears in their eyes. While her life and business dealings served as an example during her lifetime, her dying without a will and leaving behind a complicated situation can also serve as a lesson.

An overview of the probate process

Probate is an unfamiliar process for most Pennsylvania residents. While many may understand some of the basics of other areas of the law, such as criminal law or family law, probate and estate law can be daunting to even the most sophisticated of individuals. An overview of the basics of the probate process can be beneficial for many people.

Are Pennsylvania residents avoiding estate planning mistakes?

Once Pennsylvania residents make the choice - the right choice - to begin crafting a comprehensive estate plan, it is important for them to realize that not just any documents will do. They need to make sure that they have the right documents for their own unique financial and family situations. And, they need to be sure that they avoid some common estate planning mistakes. So, what are the big estate planning mistakes to avoid? Well, as a recent article noted, the big mistakes can be broken down into four particular concerns.

Understanding your options in a comprehensive estate plan

Most people probably know that they should have an estate plan, but many are reluctant to dive into this process because they believe it might be too complicated. But, while there may be complications to overcome and difficult decisions to make in the estate planning process, it is well worth the time and effort.

Does your estate plan include "digital" assets?

While most Pennsylvania residents think of their home, bank accounts and other investments when they approach estate planning, there may be a critical part of life that they aren't thinking about: their "digital assets." These assets, which can include online accounts, social media accounts and cloud-based data storage, are all items that most people interact with on a daily basis. What will happen to these assets when a person dies?

Having a will to avoid probate

Probate is a legal term that some may not be familiar with. But, unlike many other areas of law, probate is an area that almost everyone will encounter at some point in life - or, at least, their assets will go through the probate process. When it comes to probate, the most important document is a will.

Representation in probate matters

Our readers who are familiar with probate and estate administration know that this is the area of law which deals with what happens to the assets of individuals who pass away and who have wills or trusts that direct who receives these assets and who is in charge of handling the decedents' affairs.

Estate planning can help simplify and organize your finances

Many of our previous posts here have pointed out how estate planning can help Pennsylvania residents get piece of mind when they make a plan for how their assets will be distributed to their family members and close friends upon death. However, there are many different "in life" benefits to estate planning as well. For example, power of attorney documents are part of an estate plan, and these documents appoint an individual to make decisions for the planner in life if the planner is unable to make those decisions.

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