Skip to Content

We are a Veteran Owned Business, providing 20% discounts for Veterans, First Responders, Elementary and High School teachers. Please contact us to set up a phone or Zoom meeting. Taking care of you and your family, It's What We Do!

Promise to Will a House in Chester County, Pennsylvania

Posted on Wed Sep 30, 2015, on Estate Planning

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My best friend repeatedly promised to give me her Chester County house in her will. She died recently and her son, who did not talk to her for 40 years, has filed a will from the 1970s that gives him everything. Can I challenge that Will?

If I understand the facts correctly, your best friend died and to the best of your knowledge, her most recent will was the one her son filed with the Chester County Register of Wills. That will is very old, but as far as you know, is the most recent will she signed. Though she verbally promised to give you the house in Chester County, she failed to write a new will.

If these are the facts, then you will not be able to successfully challenge the Will for two reasons.

Klenk Law

I Was Served With a Petition for Accounting, What do I do?

Posted on Tue Sep 29, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am the executor of my father’s estate in Lehigh County. My sister and I do not speak, so the process has been terrible. She refuses to sign the family settlement agreement I sent her, and instead has petitioned the Orphans’ Court to make me account. Do I need to respond?

Yes, you must respond to the petition. As a beneficiary, your sister has every right to ask that you file a formal account with the Court. She does not have to show that you have done anything wrong, only that she is a beneficiary. She may have done you a favor, because it is clear that she was never going to sign your family settlement agreement. This would mean dragging the estate administration on potentially for years. Now you get a court-mandated end date.

Klenk Law

Burlington County Personal Representative Liability.

Posted on Tue Sep 29, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My aunt’s will names me as her Personal Representative and divides the estate between all of her nieces and nephews. We are not a close family and there have been disputes in the past. I am worried that my cousins will be angry that I was named the Personal Representative and may cause trouble. Can they sue me as the Personal Representative?

If you agree to be sworn in by the Surrogate as the estate’s Personal Representative, you will then have a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries to act in their best interest. You will be given broad powers and be largely unsupervised by the Surrogate.

To counter these broad powers, the beneficiaries are given the right to petition Surrogate’s Court to review every action and expense. Should the court find that any action of yours reduced their inheritance, the judge could choose to surcharge you (fine you) to make up for any loss.

Klenk Law

Who to nominate as executor in Delaware County?

Posted on Mon Sep 28, 2015, on Estate Planning

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I live in Delaware County, and my will names my parents as co-executors. I thought this was a natural thing to do, but my parents are going through a divorce. What are my options?

Naming your parents as co-executors when they do not get along is a bad idea. Co-executors have to work well together and cooperate. Parents who are having a dispute can make a small argument into a family feud that lasts decades.

You should investigate changing your will to name another family member or, if you have none that you trust, to name your Delaware County estate planning attorney. Your lawyer will charge a fee, but that fee will be small when compared to the potential costs of litigation and family turmoil. When named executor, I normally ask that the document state that I receive my hourly fee rather than a percentage of the estate, which many lawyers take. I find the hourly fee is fairer for everyone involved.

Klenk Law

Are New Jersey Wills registered anyway?

Posted on Mon Sep 28, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My father died recently. I have been told he had a will done in 2007, but I can’t find it. Where would it be registered?

A will is not usually registered anywhere until the person dies. Normally, it is kept by the lawyer who drafted the will or in a safe location in the house. If you didn’t find it in the house or in a safe deposit box, then you are left to backtrack over time to find the lawyer. This can be a challenge.

My firm sends out summaries of the documents we draft every 4 months to stay in contact with our clients. The attorney who drafted your father’s will may have a similar practice, so watch the mail. Probate is started by having the executor named in the will file the will with the Surrogate. If you can’t find a will, then you can open the estate via Administration. It would be wise to retain an experienced probate lawyer to help you and, if you think there maybe conflict with siblings if there is no will, retain a firm experienced with estate related litigation.

Klenk Law

Protecting New Jersey Inheritance for LGBT Partner

Posted on Sat Sep 26, 2015, on LGBT Estate Planning

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I love my partner, but she is terrible with money. If I leave her an inheritance, it will be spent quickly and she will be left with nothing. How do I leave her an inheritance but protect it for her?

Recognizing your partner’s inability to handle money allows you to set up an estate plan that can help make sure that your partner will always have enough money. There are many ways to set up a trust for his benefit. The best option will depend on what type of assets you have and how much flexibility you wish to give the Trustee.

Klenk Law

Lehigh County Power of Attorney Account Upon Request

Posted on Fri Sep 25, 2015, on Estate Litigation

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My dad named me his power of attorney. For many years I helped pay his bills and care for him. After years of in-house care and then a nursing home in Lehigh County, all his money was gone except one small account which we both split. My brother thinks I stole the money, but that is not true. He has served me a citation to account for my actions under the power of attorney, what do I do now?

By accepting the position of agent through your father’s Power of Attorney, you became a fiduciary. As a fiduciary, you owed your father a duty to look out for his interests. But that job also comes with the obligation to explain your actions as agent to certain people.

An interested party can ask for you to account for all the actions you took as the agent. During his life, this could have been your father. Now that your father has died, your brother (as the heir to half his estate) has the right to ask for a power of attorney accounting from you because if it is found that you took any money, half of anything recovered will go to him.

Klenk Law

Pennsylvania LGBT Estate Planning to Preserve Benefits

Posted on Fri Sep 25, 2015, on LGBT Estate Planning

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My partner and I have been together for over 25 years. Marriage would be nice, but I have the most money and his family has a history of long life. I worry that if I die and I give him everything, he may outlive those funds.

“Veteran” lesbian and gay couples cannot be blamed for hesitating to tie the knot. After years of planning for retirement as two single people, getting married late in life can throw a curveball into the financial and estate planning game. Getting married changes your tax status and eligibility for various government benefits. So, like any other huge life decision, marriage should be examined with an eye for retirement and asset protection efficiencies.

Klenk Law

How do I close an estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania?

Posted on Thu Sep 24, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I have served as the executor for my grandfather’s Bucks County estate for over a year and wish to close the estate, but my uncle claims that I have embezzled money from the estate. This is unfounded, but how can I close the estate while he makes these claims?

As the executor, you could make an “at risk” distribution of the estate assets. This means you distribute the money without getting a release. This is not advisable, as your uncle could then use his inheritance to hire a Bucks County Orphans’ Court Lawyer to force you to file a formal account. Because you would have distributed the estate funds, this cost would come out of your pocket.

Klenk Law

Per Stirpes: Can An Illegitimate Son Inherit From My Father’s Estate?

Posted on Fri Sep 18, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: After my father’s death, a man arrived claiming to be my father’s illegitimate son. The will says that my father’s estate is divided between his heirs, “per stirpes.” Can this man get a share of the estate?

Per Stirpes

The phrase “per stirpes” literally means “by the branch”; distributing an estate equally down the bloodline. So, if your father did not exclude this man and if he is truly your father’s son, then he gets a share of the estate. The estate can demand that he take a DNA test to prove he is your father’s son. This is possible by using your blood and that of your siblings. However, this may require a Petition and order from the Orphans’ Court. Therefore it would be wise for the Personal Representative to retain an experienced Estate Litigation Attorney.

Klenk Law

What Our clients are saying

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Tom Mettinger Sr.

Integrity, exceeding the client's expectations. In-depth knowledge of the law

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Chantee C.

Peter recently gave a presentation about Wills & Trusts at my employer, and it was fantastic! He was extremely knowledgeable and provided valuable information to the group. People were very engaged and asked several questions, all of which Peter thoroughly answered. Personally, my husband and I have selected Peter to help us with our estate planning, and he has been very helpful in providing us with all of the information we need to provide a secure future for our family. Thank you, Peter!

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter G.

Very knowledgeable! Peter Klenk always has a thorough answer, and the associates have more experience than you'll find at most firms. They really only do estate work.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Darryl J.

Answered my question quickly and referred me to a colleague that could handle my problem

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Dylan. S

Peter provided outstanding advice and preparation of a will and trusts.

Let us put our expertise to work for you.

Free consultation within 24 hours.