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Klenk Law

Philadelphia Probate Attorneys

Philadelphia Probate Attorneys

Our Philadelphia probate attorneys at Klenk Law can assist you in working through the sometimes complicated 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 deductable against the Inheritance Tax.

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.  

What is probate?

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 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. 

Is probate a public process?

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 passed directly to the beneficiary. 

What happens if a person passes away without a will?

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. 

If my loved one had a will, is probate necessary?

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. 

What are the executor’s responsibilities?

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. 

How long does probate take?

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.

Going Through the Probate Process steps.

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. 

Probate Process Steps

Step One. File the petition.

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. 

Step Two. Notify important parties.

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. 

Step Three. Collect the assets.

The decedent likely listed their assets in the will. Some types of assets could be:

  • Real estate
  • Checking and Savings accounts
  • Personal valuable collections
  • Retirement accounts

When you inventory these assets, you will also need to have them appraised. Once this is completed, you can show them to the court. 

Step Four. Take care of the bills.

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. 

Step Five. Distribution and closing the estate.

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. 

Is There Any Reason to Avoid the Probate Process?

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. 

Your Named Beneficiaries Can Skip Probate Court

Any assets held in a will must pass through probate. This is very time consuming and costly. To avoid this step, assets can be placed into a trust or gifted.

Assets May Be Passed to Beneficiaries Sooner

Sometimes heirs are relying on their inheritance. The probate process is not always fast and could take months or years before assets are distributed.  

Your Beneficiaries Might Receive More

Probate is not free. If there are tax issues, disputes, or Will challenges, the cost can increase. 

The Estate Remains Private

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. 

The Risk of a Dispute is Less

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.

Speak with Us Now

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. 

Common Myths About Probate

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:

  • It Often Takes Years to Probate an Estate:

    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 or state tax can also extend the process.

  • It Is Very Expensive:

    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.

  • If There Is a Will, You Can Skip Probate:

    Many people assume that as long as here is a valid will in place, they do not have to go through the probate process. However, as 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.

  • Not all lawyers specialize in the same fields. If you have to go through the probate process, you need experienced Philadelphia, PA probate attorneys on your side. A skilled attorney will know all the local probate law and make sure they are fired. He or she will also be there to offer support and answer all of your questions. If you work with a reputable attorney, you will have a peace of mind.

Don’t hesitate to get started by contacting our Philadelphia probate attorneys. 

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