Our Philadelphia probate attorneys at Klenk Law can assist you in working through the sometimes complicated Pennsylvania probate process. This is not your area of expertise, and you have other things to do. Let us take care of the work, and the cost is deductible against the Inheritance Tax.
Proper estate planning in Pennsylvania involves more than just deciding on how to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries after your death. You also need to make arrangements in the event you have a future disability, or to ensure that a child or family member with special needs is taken care of. Estate planning and disability planning can be complicated, and you should not make any decisions about what tools to use without speaking with one of the Philadelphia probate attorneys from our firm.
At Klenk Law, our team has years of experience helping clients with all aspects of disability planning. We start with a complete analysis of your circumstances, and we help you plan for possible scenarios, such as future incapacitation while ensuring that any loved one who has a disability is well-cared for. Our goal is to find the strategies which will prove to be the most beneficial to protecting your interests. We will craft an individualized solution that helps meet your immediate needs and your long-term goals.
An executor holds a great responsibility when they take on the role of carrying out someone’s final wishes. It’s only natural that executors and beneficiaries may be curious about the probate process and its impact on the estate and, as a result, are sure to have many questions.
When a person passes away, the estate passes through a process called probate. The process involves reviewing the will and ensuring that it is valid. This is a way of ensuring that the will is carried out as intended.
Probate is the court-supervised process of winding up a decedent’s estate. Probates are handled by Philadelphia probate attorneys. This can be complicated and time-consuming, but it does not need to be if you plan ahead for your death.
Probate allows the executor to obtain legal authority over the decedent’s estate. During this time, debts are paid and any remaining property is distributed according to the will or state laws of intestacy if there is no valid will.
By filing for probate, you must be able to show that you have a copy of the will and that you are the executor named in the document. In order to do this, you must first have the will notarized. This is a crucial step in the process, as it helps to ensure that the will is valid and can be admitted into probate.
Probate is often a feared process that many are hoping to avoid. The process can be complicated and time-consuming if proper planning has not gone into creating a will. Additionally, family tensions can arise. Sometimes people dispute the will’s validity. The process can become rife with tension and become rather costly.
Most people will not need a lawyer to handle their probate cases. However, if there is property involved that is located in other states, or if there is a dispute among the heirs, then you will need to retain an experienced probate lawyer.
Klenk Law can help you through every step of the probate process, from start to finish. We can help you file the will with the court, work with creditors to pay off any debts, and distribute the property according to your wishes as laid out in your will.
Contact our Philadelphia probate attorneys for help with the probate process and ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away.
When someone writes a will and last testament, they will usually name an executor of the estate. If that person is not interested in having this role or is not able to do so for any reason, the appointed person can decline to be the executor. The court will then appoint an estate administrator or personal representative to take their place.
An executor has a fiduciary duty of the estate to act in a way that is only in the interest of the testator. If an executor acts in a way that shows self-interest or otherwise fails to perform duties during probate, there are legal solutions available. The court may remove an executor and choose someone else to oversee probate and the distribution of assets, along with other responsibilities. In some situations, a beneficiary or heir can pursue legal action if there is proof that an executor committed a breach of fiduciary duty.
Another way that probate may go wrong is if a will becomes contested. When will is contested, that means someone does not believe that the will shows a true reflection of the testator’s wishes. The person contesting the will has to present a convincing case as to why a will should not be followed or probated.
A will contest may happen if someone suspects that the testator had written the will under extreme duress, coercion, fraud, or in a state of mind where they did not fully understand what they were doing. An executor of the estate or other beneficiaries and heirs may come forward opposing the will contest, arguing that the will is an honest reflection of the deceased’s wishes.
During the process of probate, creditors will have a chance to submit claims against the estate. Claims that seem valid must be paid out from assets within the estate. But, creditors will have to show why they feel they have a right to collect. An executor would be wise to confirm that these claims are legitimate before paying any of them.
If there are existing assets that should be part of probate but cannot be found, this can cause prolonged delays. An executor will have to attempt to locate all of the estate assets that will eventually be distributed to beneficiaries or hires. This issue can be prevented if the testator leaves instructions for where these assets can be found after their passing.
If you are the executor of a family member’s estate, you will have to initiate the probate process. Here are some common probate mistakes you need to avoid.
When you are the executor, you may be wondering what the probate process is like. You will likely need to walk through certain steps. Our attorneys can help you every step of the way if you are unfamiliar with the process or have questions. Would you like to learn more about the probate process and what it typically looks like? Reach out to us now.
When a testator — someone who’s written a will — names you the executor of her estate in that will, you don’t have to wait until she dies before you take action. There are several key steps you can take while she’s still alive that will make the execution of her final wishes a lot easier. Your Philadelphia probate attorneys can help you carry out her desires.
Make sure you know where her will is and how to get ahold of it. It’s hard to carry out someone’s final wishes if you can’t find the document that spells out assets, beneficiaries, child custody arrangements, trusts, financial records and more.
Find out what she wants as far as funeral arrangements, burial or cremation and even her obituary. Does she want a church service? A graveside service? A funeral home service? Would she prefer her casket be open or closed? Does she want a solemn gathering of friends after her funeral or would she prefer a celebration of her life with a big party?
Determine what her assets are, which beneficiaries get which assets and how to get ahold of the beneficiaries. You’ll also want to know who her Philadelphia probate attorneys at Klenek Law are, in case they have extra documents that would help you successfully move her estate through probate.
Ask the testator to make a complete, detailed list of financial accounts, including savings and checking, CDs, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies and other valuable property.
After your friend dies, there are more tasks for you to do as her executor.
Request multiple copies of her official death certificate. You may need to send the original documents out to cell phone or internet providers, for example, to prove she has passed away so they’ll stop her service.
Once you have her will, you’ll want to make a copy of it for your own use, to keep track of which assets go to what beneficiaries. You’ll need to file her will with the probate court. After the will is filed, you’ll advise the beneficiaries of the contest period, the time period during which they can contest the will, or claim it’s not valid. This contest period could be from six months to 20 years depending on the state you’re in. Your Philadelphia probate attorneys at Klenek Law can help you determine the contest period.
When you want to begin the probate process, you will need to file a petition. This means you are officially taking on the executor’s role, and you will be supplying a will that the decedent created.
When you begin the probate process, you will notify people that the estate is in probate. People you should notify are heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors.
The decedent likely listed their assets in the will. Some types of assets could be:
When you inventory these assets, you will also need to have them appraised. Once this is completed, you can show them to the court.
You will want to look at anything the decedent still owes regarding their estate or any other debts. You can work with your probate attorneys in Philadelphia to help you find any unpaid bills or debts so that you can make their accounts current.
Finally, you will want to distribute the remaining estate assets according to the will’s terms. Further, you can then work with the court to close the estate. Once you do this, you are finished in your role of being an executor.
We understand that it is a huge burden to take on when you have been listed as an executor of someone’s estate. However, when you have a trusted attorney by your side, you know you will not miss any small details. If you are interested in working with a member of our team, give us a call now.
Probate is a public process. Whatever is contained in a Living Will can be accessed by the public. In other words, anyone can find out who inherited what and how much. They can also read about any disputes, challenges, or other matters that may not be appropriate for the public eye. When you have trust, everything is private. If you have any privacy concerns, you should speak with our Philadelphia probate lawyers about other options.
A Will can be contested by anyone who feels like they have a right to the estates’ assets. If they can convince a judge that this is true, your heirs could lose some of their inheritance. By drafting a Trust, you reduce the risk of a dispute or challenge.
If you are unsure whether or not you want your heirs to go through the probate process or have other concerns, please call Klenk Law. We will discuss your current situation and what options are most practical.
The probate process doesn’t have to be as feared as it often is. Klenk Law can help families to plan their estates and manage each step in the probate process. Don’t hesitate to get started by contacting our Philadelphia probate attorneys.
One of the best ways to avoid the probate process is to set up trusts in your estate plan. Revocable living trusts are one of the most popular kinds of trusts. As such, it is important to have a basic understanding of this type of trust. Ultimately, one of our skilled Philadelphia probate attorneys can help you decide whether a revocable living trust is right for your estate.
In order to understand a revocable living trust, you first need to understand the basic structure of trusts in general. Trusts are financial instruments where one person provides property and he or she is known as a grantor or settlor of the trust. The property is for the benefit of someone else and will go to that person at some point, the person who will eventually receive the property is known as a beneficiary. Between the time the grantor gives the property and the beneficiary gets the property, a person known as a trustee holds and/or invests the property. In some cases, the grantor and the trustee are the same people.
There are many different kinds of trusts, and a revocable living trust is just one kind. It is called revocable because the grantor can take back the property in the trust at any time and, in essence, cancel the trust. It is called a living trust because the grantor creates the trust during his or her life, rather than providing instructions to create a trust at death.
Typically, a revocable living trust will transfer the property to the beneficiary at the death of the grantor. For example, a grandparent may put some property into trust and will include instructions in the trust document to transfer the property to his or her grandchild upon death.
Philadelphia probate attorneys know that there are many advantages to transferring property through a trust instead of through a will. In the above example, the grandparent could have instead just put the property in his or her will. However, property that transfers through a will has to go through probate, which can be long and costly. With a trust, the estate avoids probate and the property can transfer directly to the beneficiary at the death of the grantor.
Another benefit to a revocable living trust is that the grantor can still have some control over the property. For example, the trust can be revoked anytime during the life of the grantor as long as he or she is still competent. Trusts can also provide some control over assets even after death. Grantors can specify that the assets in the trust do not go to a beneficiary until the beneficiary reaches a certain age. Will do not allow for control over assets after death beyond the initial transfer.
However, neither wills nor the kind of trust described here does anything to avoid estate or other taxes. More detailed information about taxes can be provided by one of our Philadelphia probate attorneys.
Probate has been around for many years, but it still gets a bad name. Many people want to avoid the probate process because they may have heard so many negative things about it. However, not everything you may hear is true. Here are some common myths about probate:
One of the most common reasons why some people try to avoid probate is that they are afraid it will take multiple years to complete. They’ve already been through so much and do not want to spend that much time in court. The good news is that probate often doesn’t take that long. In fact, it often is finished within a year. However, you should keep in mind that certain factors can slow down the process. For example, if a family member does not believe he or she is being treated fairly and contests the will, it can prolong the probate process. Having a very large estate that owes both federal and state tax can also extend the process.
Another worry many people may have about probate is that the costs will eat up the assets in the estate. Luckily, this is not true. In most cases, it just costs a few hundred dollars to probate an estate. However, if you hire an attorney who charges high fees or the estate is contested, it can get more expensive.
Many people assume that as long as there is a valid will in place, they do not have to go through the probate process. However, like Philadelphia, PA probate attorneys can confirm, you will still likely have to go through probate. The process is what proves a will is valid. By going through the process, you might find out that the will was invalid due to fraud.
First things first, when choosing from the many Philadelphia probate attorneys, you need to know which ones can help you. That means you need to go beyond which lawyers offer the services you need and find ones who have the availability to help you when you need it most. Otherwise, you could end up waiting for months for an attorney to become available.
To find someone who meets your availability requirements, decide on your timeline before reaching out to lawyers. First, choose when you want to have your initial consultation and look at the availability of the lawyers in your area. Many have online calendars or a statement about how long it will be until you can have your consultation.
Now that you’ve got an extensive list, you need to make sure all of the attorneys on it are qualified. First, identify the licenses and certifications required to operate in Philadelphia and find ones who not only meet these standards but go above and beyond to make themselves stand out in their area of expertise, such as the professionals at Klenek Law.
From there, you’re going to take one more big step to narrow down your list, which is scouring the online review sites to get a feel for each lawyer’s reputation. Go through both good and bad reviews on many different places to figure out the pros and cons of each individual and get rid of the ones you don’t think you could handle working alongside.
Your list of potential Philadelphia probate attorneys should be getting pretty short by now. Once you’re at this stage, you need to select a few finalists based on their experience working with the necessary area of expertise. Look at the variety of services they offer and focus on ones who emphasize their work as probate lawyers. Then, identify which firm has been focusing on this specialty longest.
You should have a finalist and a runner-up or two at this point. Before you ask for your initial consultation, call the company and speak to someone on the phone. Make sure you identify yourself as a potential client. Then, get a feel for the office. See if the person you speak to is knowledgeable and friendly. Keep in mind that you also want to go with a law firm with a sense of professionalism, such as Klenek Law.
When choosing an executor, select candidates who make responsible life choices. Philadelphia probate attorneys know clients can get caught thinking they need an executor who knows a few things about estate planning and estate law. You’re better with an executor who’s responsible enough to know which professionals to hire, like those at Klenk Law.
If you feel you don’t have responsible people in your life, you can designate a legal representative, accountant, or trust company for the role. If you choose someone other than a person in your life, you may pay extra fees, so bear that in mind.
Once you name your executor, think of a younger candidate in good health likely to outlive you. The reason to choose a younger successor is in case your primary candidate dies before you. Another reason to have a backup option is in case your first choice either steps down from the role or you change your mind about the person overseeing your estate. No matter your primary or secondary executor candidate, Philadelphia probate attorneys recommend making your decision official in your will.
With assets, you want someone good with money. Choose executor candidates who don’t have liens or a lot of creditors after them. Other than peace of mind, another reason to select an executor in good financial standing is so the person may fulfill the role.
Many courts require executors to become bonded, so beneficiaries get paid even if an executor disappears with assets. Anyone who declared bankruptcy or has a poor credit history may not qualify for bonding, so that person may not act as your executor.
Don’t worry if your executor candidate doesn’t live in the same state or zip code as you. Executors may carry out their duties from wherever they wish, but they may want to take a trip to meet with Philadelphia probate attorneys or oversee the distribution of personal property. Even if your house needs a thorough cleaning, your executor can hire a company to tackle the task and hire someone to oversee the process.
Navigating an estate with Klenek Law requires patience and understanding, so think twice about choosing candidates who grow frustrated easily. During the probate process, parties may make mistakes or disagree. Throughout it all, your executor must display a willingness to see the matter through to the end.
Yes, probate is a public process. This means records can be accessed to show the estate’s value and how it was divided. During your lifetime, you can arrange things, so your estate remains private. This is a primary reason many choose to consult with a Pennsylvania probate lawyer regarding ensuring a more private process. One of the best ways to avoid passing the entire estate through probate is by considering a living trust. Assets can be transferred into a living trust while you are still living. Keep in mind that you will still have the ability to control these assets. Once you pass away, the living trust will not have to pass through probate and pass directly to the beneficiary.
When a person passes away without a will in place, they have died intestate. Should this occur, Pennsylvania state laws will dictate how your assets and property are distributed. The court will appoint an administrator to oversee your estate. The administrator distributes assets to beneficiaries and resolves the estate.
Filing the will is necessary to secure assets in the deceased’s name without beneficiary designations. In that case, our Philadelphia probate attorneys share that, yes, probate is still required.
Not everyone wants to go through the probate process. If you believe this is not right for your estate, our Philadelphia probate attorneys can help. There are ways to avoid the probate process. The alternative options to avoid probate are through gifting your assets before your death, placing them into a trust, creating a family limited partnership, or naming beneficiaries on certain assets (i.e., bank accounts, retirement accounts, titles, etc.). There are benefits to each of these methods, as well as some disadvantages. If you are unsure whether you want your heirs to pass through probate, please consider these reasons to avoid the process.
An executor plays an essential role in managing the probate process. The executor’s responsibilities include initiating the probate process, distributing property to beneficiaries, paying estate taxes and debts, managing any conflict or legal issues, and more.
However, as executor, you have responsibilities too. You have to locate the will, whether it’s with an attorney or in a safety box. You have to retain an attorney if you need one. Not every estate requires one but it can save a lot of stress.
You want to then identify and protect assets that the deceased person left behind. This could be jewelry, other valuables, payments on real estate, and other tangibles. This differs depending on the estate. You want to review the will and talk to the beneficiaries. You also have to ensure the will is the “final” will and not a copy that’s outdated.
You want to notify the beneficiaries and other appropriate parties such as creditors. Creditors need to be notified so that you can show up to court with death certificates and other paperwork—as well as send out death notices to appropriate parties, like the IRS and Social Security, etc.
You, as executor, will continue to pay bills such as utility, mortgage, and other such bills of similar nature. This is done until the real estate is sold or given to whoever inherited it. You also distribute the assets, according to the deceased person’s wishes. You’ve got to distribute those assets to benefices, and it could be complicated, but other times not so complex.
Filling out papers to close the estate is your job too after all other tasks have been completed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you should look into a probate lawyer, especially if you’re handling a large estate with a lot of assets. A probate lawyer is going to know the best way to handle each step in the probate process, and that should put your mind at ease. It can also help when handling beneficiaries who aren’t happy with what they received from the decedent.
A probate lawyer is the same thing as an estate attorney and can be involved in a variety of ways, even helping the executor with their responsibilities. How this lawyer is involved depends heavily on the type of estate they’re managing. Your probate lawyer will collect proceeds from life insurance policies, identify and secure estate assets, obtain appraisals for the decedent’s property, assist in the payment of bills and debts. They assist in collecting this information so that they can see how much money is left over after.
Your lawyer will also prepare and file documents to the probate court—so you don’t have to. They’ll determine if there are any estate or inheritance taxes due, and ensure those debts are satisfied. They also resolve income tax issues, manage the checking account for the estate, transfer assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries and make the final disbursements of assets after all bills and taxes are paid.
This type of lawyer’s sole purpose is to ensure the appropriate taxes, debts, and other such charges are paid in full before the family gets the money. They also focus on ensuring the money goes to who it was supposed to—as well as property that the decedent may have left behind.
When a loved one has passed away, chances are everyone will want the process to resolve as quickly as possible. However, determining how long the process will take depends on a variety of factors. In most cases, probate should take anywhere from a few months to a year. Unfortunately, when complications arise, or the validity of a will is challenged, the process may take years.
Probate provides a way for friends and relatives to bring forward claims related to the deceased person’s assets. Probate can be beneficial if there were instances of elder abuse, dementia, fraud, or the person was unduly influenced. On the flip side of that, the con of probate is that it raises the chances of conflict over assets after the decedent has passed. Probate is a public process, so everything about an estate will be made public.
An executor has many duties related to the estate, but they are not able to avoid probate. There is less flexibility on what they can do than you would think. The probate process is controlled by laws and state codes. An executor will be bound to these laws, which were created to limit executor mistakes. For example, an executor has to seek permission from the court for most transactions of the estate and must log everything they do in an organized manner.
Your PA probate attorney can review the pros and cons to having your estate go through probate. Depending on your circumstances, probate may be quite useful or result in complications and substantial loss. Probate can be time-consuming too, often taking up to a year or longer to finalize. This allows time for challenges to be brought forward if need be. But many beneficiaries just want to receive their inheritance, especially in the midst of their grief.
At some point or another, we’re going to wonder whether we need to write an estate plan or not. If you pass away and don’t leave proper instructions behind, then your assets will go through probate. But if you prefer to skip the probate process and ensure your beneficiaries get their inheritance promptly, then your next step is to start writing down your wishes in a legally-binding way.
While no one wants to think about becoming disabled, the fact is, that the unexpected can happen. Many people will be faced with a temporary disability at least once in their lives. Long-term disability is a real concern that could happen at any moment to anyone. Even if you practice healthy eating habits, exercise each day, and see the doctor regularly, you may be unable to avoid an injury that could have a long-term effect on your life. For example, you could suffer a slip and fall or some other type of accident that was beyond your control. Proper disability planning can ensure that your needs will be met if the unthinkable occurs.
There are special tools that you can use for disability planning, depending on your individual situation. Some of these tools that our Philadelphia probate attorneys may use include:
In addition to having experienced Philadelphia probate attorneys from Klenk Law on your side, there are many other benefits of hiring a Philadelphia probate lawyer. At the very least, you will have someone who can help you with all the paperwork that is required for the probate process. While some of this can be done on your own, it is best to have an experienced professional assist you every step of the way so that you can avoid any unnecessary delays or mistakes.
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“I had a great experience with Klenk Law. The Probate team is fast, efficient, and very professional. Jackie & Kim were extremely helpful with all my questions regarding the probate process.” – Ava C.
Klenk Law Firm is an estate planning law firm in Philadelphia. We’re proud to be one of the most trusted and respected names in Pennsylvania. Our Philadelphia probate attorneys have over 20 years of experience helping families with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and more. We offer free consultations so you can learn how we can help you protect your family today and tomorrow.
We understand how important it is to protect the assets of our clients while still making sure they enjoy their lives during retirement or if someone passes away unexpectedly. That’s why we take time getting to know each client so well before drafting up any legal documents so we can give them exactly what they need without leaving anything out! Our team will work tirelessly on your behalf until every single one of your questions gets answered and all concerns get addressed, which means peace of mind knowing everything will be taken care of by professionals who truly care about you and your loved ones.
You will be able to rest easy knowing that our firm has extensive experience handling complex cases like yours. We understand how difficult it is when someone close passes away without leaving behind clear instructions on what they wanted to be done with their assets after death, which is why we work hard to make sure everything goes smoothly for our clients and their loved ones during this time. Let us take care of everything while you focus on other important matters at hand such as grieving or settling affairs left behind by your loved one who passed away.
If you’re in need of trustworthy, experienced Philadelphia probate attorneys, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Klenk Law Firm! We would be more than happy to provide you with a free consultation so you can learn more about our services and how we can help you protect your family. We also offer flexible appointment hours since we know how hard it is to take time out of a busy schedule, so please feel free to call or email us for an appointment at your convenience.
Peter Klenk is the founding member of Klenk Law, a seven attorney boutique estate planning law firm. We serve clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota and Florida. Peter Klenk received his Masters in Taxation LL.M. from NYU Law School and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. He served his country in the Navy JAGC during Desert Storm. Easy to talk to, feel free to call Peter for an appointment. We will make the process as easy as possible!
"I worked for Peter Klenk for 4 wonderful years. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone at the firm. Everyone truly cares about their clients and has a strong sense of responsibility to get things done right. I would highly recommend Klenk Law!"
Peter came highly recommended by a close friend to do our estate planning. We have been putting off for years. He is knowledgeable, professional and easy to work with.
Peter Klenk is an extraordinary attorney with positive guidance and knowledge for all of your Trust and Estate needs. We have used him for over 20 years.
Answered my question quickly and referred me to a colleague that could handle my problem
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.
Affable...yet surprisingly cerebral estate planning atty. High marks all the way around.