Klenk Law

Tag: Probate Lawyer

Hourly vs. Estate Percentage for Delaware County Probate Fees

Posted on Sat Nov 21, 2015, on Fees

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My dad died recently and his estate-planning attorney wants to charge us a percentage of the estate to act as the probate lawyer. I see that you charge hourly. Which is better?

I have found over the years that charging a percentage of the estate as the estate’s lawyer is seldom fair. Usually the percentage is disproportionate to the work done. I find that being paid hourly for actual work done is fair for everyone. Either way is legal and proper, I just feel more comfortable charging by the hour.

Missing Sibling During Philadelphia Probate Process

Posted on Wed Nov 18, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother died a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania survived by three sons. She had no will. One of my brothers has signed the renunciation giving me the right to serve as the Administrator. My other brother is homeless and I don’t know where he is, so what can I do?

The Register of Wills may issue Letters of Administration to give authority to someone to act as the Administrator of an estate if the person died without a will. The statue spells out who has a right to serve, and if the person dies without a spouse then each child has the right to serve. Most often, the children will agree on one person to serve and the other children will complete renunciations in favor of that person.

Is the Personal Representative personally liable to the estate beneficiaries?

Posted on Fri Oct 30, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I filed my father’s will with the Surrogate and was named the Personal Representative, but am having second thoughts. My family is litigious. Can I be sued and found personally liable?

By accepting the position of Personal Representative you became a fiduciary with a duty to the beneficiaries. If your family is litigious, you are right to be concerned. All the beneficiaries have the right to petition the Surrogates Court and ask the court to surcharge you should they feel any action you took reduced their inheritance. This could be a sale of land at too low a price, a fee you paid to a creditor, or even your salary.

How do I sell a deceased relative’s stock in Pennsylvania?

Posted on Fri Oct 23, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My grandmother died in a Delaware County senior living facility without any real assets, except for a small bank account and some stock held in just her name. Her will said it was supposed to be used to pay her last bills and then anything left would be divided among her grandchildren. We’re confused as to how to sell the stock once we do the transfer paperwork. Do we have to sell it through Computershare or can we sell it through any brokerage?

During her lifetime, the stock and bank account could only be accessed or liquidated by your grandmother. Now that she is dead, the accounts will sit until an authorized person contacts the bank and brokerage. As your grandmother had a will, and she lived in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, that person will be the Executor under the will.

Can I get paid for the care I gave my aunt before her death?

Posted on Tue Oct 20, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: Before she died, my aunt lived with me in Burlington County, New Jersey for several years. My wife and I took her to the doctor and cared for her when she became bedridden. She died without a will and all her assets are being divided between my cousins. They never helped with her care. This is not fair. Can I make the estate pay me for my time?

Under New Jersey rules, your Aunt could have made a will and given you the entire estate, or had a will that said you would receive some of her estate to reflect the work you did. Because she did not make a will, the New Jersey intestate rule divides her assets between all her children, equally.

Can I be sued as the estate’s personal representative in Camden County?

Posted on Mon Oct 19, 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 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, then you have a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries to act in their best interest. You will be given broad powers and will 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.

Can I avoid my deceased husband’s creditors by not opening his estate?

Posted on Mon Oct 19, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My husband died a resident of Burlington County without a will. All his assets were owned joint accounts with me. This week, I received a form letter in the mail saying a bank had issued a statement and proof of claim against my husband’s estate and requesting immediate payment in full. It is addressed to his estate, but came in the mail to me. What should I do?

When someone dies without a will and all their assets are held jointly with a spouse, there is no need to file a will. The assets pass to the surviving spouse because of the joint ownership. That being said, avoiding probate this way does not mean that your husband avoided his creditors.

Proper Place to File a Will After Death

Posted on Sat Oct 17, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

That will depend on what her death certificate says. If the death certificate says her residence was Florida, then only the Surrogate in Florida will probate the will. Likewise, if the death certificate says her residence was Philadelphia, then only the Philadelphia Register of Wills will probate the will. If your mother was only visiting Philadelphia when she died, then she was still a Florida resident. If she had moved up here and then died, then she is Philadelphia resident.

Can an Executor Sell Estate Property Without Beneficiary Approval?

Posted on Thu Oct 15, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My father recently died a resident of Chester County, PA, but he owned a nice parcel of land in Susquehanna County, which has a Marcellus Shale gas lease. I found a buyer at a great price, as I am worried that the recent drop in oil prices could reduce the land’s value.

My brother was left out of the will, for very good reasons. He contacted the buyer and told him he plans to challenge the will. Now, the buyer might try to back out, as he doesn’t want to get stuck in litigation. My brother is full of bull: he never will challenge the will, as he knows it is bulletproof, but he knows he can draw this out and cause me trouble. What can I do?

Normally, your brother has one year from the date of the will’s filing to bring his Will Challenge. So, if you do nothing, then you just have to wait for the year to expire.

How is an estate attorney paid in New Jersey for probate services?

Posted on Wed Oct 14, 2015, on Fees

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother named me the Personal Representative of her estate. I am happy to serve, but I have a family and a job, so I just don’t have the time to do all the work. I want to hire an estate attorney to help me, but I am unclear as to how they are paid. Do I have to pay the attorney from my own money?

Every Personal Representative in New Jersey has the right to hire an attorney to assist them. These attorneys are paid out of the estate’s funds, not out of the Personal Representative’s pocket. An experienced probate lawyer will have a staff available to economically help you with the probate process, the sale of estate assets and protecting you from personal liability.

What Our clients are saying

Stars

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

Stars

Peter was excellent. He explained everything very clearly and is super friendly. My wife and I originally tried using a lawyer through group legal coverage, but unfortunately the old adage - "you get what you pay for" - applied to the other lawyer, and we decided to go with a real professional.

Stars

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Stars

AWESOME LAWYER! Peter Klenk is an exceptional attorney and a very nice person! Today I spoke with Peter about estate planning and was impressed with by his professionalism, cordiality, and attention to detail. I highly recommend Klenk Law for probates, wills, trusts, and other issues germane to estate planning!

Stars

Great friendly staff

Stars

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Stars

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Stars

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Stars

Like another reviewer, I contacted Peter through his website using the free consultation link, for a question regarding PA inheritance taxes. The question was quite technical and difficult to explain, and the answer was nowhere to be found on the web. Peter grasped precisely what I was asking, and provided a clear, helpful response (with a touch of humor) the very next day.

Stars

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

Stars

Mr. Klenk, quickly understood the circumstances presented and provided clear and concise advice. This advice provided me with the information I required to progress the case to my advantage.

Stars

Peter is excellent. I had a very complicated situation with my parents' estate planning and potential Medicaid needs. Peter was very knowledgeable in estate planning matters, able to define the best solution for the situation. Additionally, he was congenial and able to communicate effectively to my senior citizen parents the benefits of estate planning. He earned my trust, and more importantly, my parents' trust in a 45 mins consultation period. Highly recommend Peter. He is very easy to work with.

Stars

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Stars

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

Stars

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Stars

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Stars

Fantastic customer service. Very personable and most importantly they provide great explanations of what is required based on your individual needs. Highly recommend Klenk Law for anyone that needs to create a will and estate documents.

Stars

Always professional and very responsive. Everyone on the staff that I have worked with. I look forward to continuing our relationship.

Stars

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Stars

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Stars

Peter and his associates made things easy for us.

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