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Klenk Law

A Probate Lawyer Ready for Mediation and LitigationProbate Attorney Allentown, PA

Probate is a process of transferring the assets of a person who has recently died to their heirs. Contrary to popular belief, most probate isn’t complicated, expensive, or lengthy. Depending on how you hold your assets, probate may even not be necessary.

Probate is a process

The objective of the probate system is to help beneficiaries and heirs clear titles and assets as quickly as possible while avoiding any false claims against the deceased’s estate. In general, a bank or financial institution will not release assets, including funds, until provided a probate order. Probate can seem a huge hurdle to overcome. This fear can cause hesitation, delaying distribution of assets and property. When a loved one creates their estate plan, they often take some steps to protect as many assets as possible from the probate process. However, it’s not harmful and is sometimes an advantage that some assets pass through probate.

Working with a Professional Makes the Process Easier

Working with a probate attorney can be particularly helpful when managing the probate process. They can help you understand the process every step of the way. Sometimes complications like conflicts between family members or beneficiaries do arise. When this happens, you may want to talk with a probate attorney Allentown, PA families trust.  

Step One: Identifying the Executor  

Following the death of a loved one, you will first want to determine who has been named the estate’s executor. This level of responsibility can come with mixed emotions. Taking on the job is an incredibly weighted responsibility. It’s important to note that the executor can pass on this responsibility if they choose. An executor will need to remain balanced, honest, and committed to the task at hand. Once someone has assumed this responsibility, the executor will need to petition for probate in the area in which the person who passed away lived.   

Step Two: Notice of Probate  

The following steps to probate come in a few different parts. The executor is responsible for obtaining their loved one’s death certificate and will. Following this, they will file the documents with the proper government agency. Each area has different rules about notification of creditors and family. Legal notices give creditors an opportunity to try to collect any debts that may be owed. It is a standard requirement to post newspaper notices for people to reference. The next step for the executor is to file proof of publication.  

Step Three: Asset Inventory  

The executor will need to take an inventory of items that must go through probate and those that pass outside of probate. Assembling assets and inventory taking can be time-consuming. In some cases, an appraiser may be retained to value assets. You will be required to list each asset and their values upon death for items like:   

  • Real estate
  • Jewelry
  • Artwork
  • Investments

The inventory need also list any debts. An Allentown, PA probate attorney can help streamline this process.  Further, an experienced attorney can ensure the correct assembly of the inventory and notice.  Once completing this process, the executor will pay any debts to creditors. These debts may also include funeral expenses.

Step Four: Transfer and Distribution of Assets  

A significant step is obtaining the executor a full liability release before any distribution. The Probate Attorney typically assembles this release and makes sure it binds all interested parties. If a beneficiary refuses to sign the release, the probate attorney files the necessary petition with the court.  Without this release, the executor remains liable.

Once obtaining the release and paying creditors and taxes, the executor and the probate attorney transfer the remaining assets to those named in the will. They will do so by liquidating assets, setting up trust accounts for minors, and transferring property if the will requires them to do so. When a person has passed away with a clear and detailed estate plan, it can make for a smooth and simplified process.   

Speed Up The Process

Ensuring that your estate plan is up-to-date can be especially helpful in moving through the probate process as quickly as possible. You will give yourself peace of mind knowing that your loved ones receive a clear picture of your wishes. A probate attorney Allentown, PA clients, recommend, like the ones who drew up your estate plan, can help them carry out the disbursement of their inheritance.  

A Probate Lawyer Ready for Mediation and Litigation  

At Klenk Law, each of our probate attorney Allentown, PA residents count on are dedicated to client-centered legal representation. Having over 25 years of experience in handling estate planning, wills, trust, probate, and litigation, we have established a solid reputation throughout the Allentown community. If you have recently lost a loved one and are facing routine probate matters or complex situations like probate or will litigation, we can help. To discuss your case with an Allentown probate attorney, please call our office today.

Probate Litigation

Once an estate enters probate, often interpersonal conflicts and unresolved family issues come to life. If you are questioning the validity of the estate documents, or any of the following questions are raising concern, you should contact a will contest attorney in Allentown, PA for further advice:

Questions to Ask

  • Was the person who signed the will or other documents in the estate of sound mind?
  • Is the will legitimate?
  • Does any estate document look doubtful?
  • Did someone take advantage of a vulnerable person?
  • Is the estate missing any money or valuables?
  • Do you believe the validity of creditors in the state is suspicious or that debts exaggerated?

Powers that Result from Probate Litigation

Probate court litigation may arrive when concerns such as those above arise during probate. While most people prefer to stay out of the court system, it can be useful as it might enable you or your lawyer to review various records or force testimony from an estate representative, family member, or beneficiary. Probate litigation can level the playing field.  Probate judges can right many wrongs.

Other Litigation Matters That Could Arise During Probate Trust Litigation

When a trustee dies before the decedent, a new trustee needs to be appointed. However, when this happens and concerns about poor investment decisions or financial loss arise, a skillful lawyer might need to get involved.

Guardianship Litigation

Some probate litigation cases involve guardianship issues. A guardianship attorney Allentown, PA locals recommend can help families find solutions to:  

  • Whether or not guardianship is applicable.
  • Who might act as an appropriate guardian?
  • Whether or not the guardian has met his or her responsibilities.
  • How the money has been used by the guardian.
  • Is the guardian is providing the individual proper care?

Guardianship cases are both complicated and challenging. If you suspect a problem or disagreement exists, please call a lawyer from Klenk Law now.

Call a Probate Attorney Allentown; PA Clients Depend On Now for a Free Case Evaluation

When it comes to probate litigation or any other estate litigation, have an experienced probate lawyer.  To speak with a probate attorney Allentown, PA offers, please call our Klenk Law today.

Allenstown, PA Probate Attorney FAQ: What is a pour-over will?

A pour-over will is a type of last will and testament that serves to shift into the revocable trust any assets not previously transferred, gifted, or included in a living trust.

A Revocable Trust May Not Be All You Need

If you don’t want to go through probate, a probate attorney in Allentown, PA may recommend a revocable living trust in order to reduce your expenses and ensure your heirs get their intended assets. A living trust essentially creates a separate legal entity. This entity doesn’t “die” so at your death its assets pass under the trust’s terms. Not through probate. It is entirely possible to keep some assets out of a trust; furthermore, to fund a trust with assets, they must pass through the trust document or retitling. If this does not happen, the asset will be a personal asset and must go through probate.

Personal Assets vs. Trust Assets

If you’re going to draft a living trust, there will be two types of assets: your personal assets and the trust’s assets. As an Allenstown, PA probate attorney can explain, if you leave assets out of your trust, they will be considered personal assets and subjected to a pour-over will. There are few common ways that an asset might not end up in your trust; including

  • You acquired this asset after creating the trust and forgot to place them in the trust.
  • You excluded this asset as part of your estate plan.
  • The asset existed when you signed the trust, but you forgot about this one asset.
  • Intending to place them in the trust, you just didn’t get around to it.

Will You Need a Pour-Over Will?

Whether or not you need a pour-over will largely depend on the state of your assets at the time that you draft your trust, and also at the time of your passing. Anything not in your trust will become a part of the estate. If you have not created a pour-over will for these assets, they will be treated as if you died intestate. In other words, the state will get involved and distribute the assets according to the laws. If you do not want this to happen, you should have a pour-over will.

Does a Pour-Over Will Go Through the Probate Process?

Depending on the rules and laws of the state, your pour-over will could be required to go through the probate process. Considerations that may affect this include the value of the assets in the estate. For example, if the value is under $50,000, the assets may not have to pass through probate or could be subject to an expedited probate process -which is slightly different.

What Does a Pour-Over Will Tend to Include?

A probate attorney should draft the pour-over will because it must maintain consistency with the trust. Otherwise, unexpected problems will arise if the two documents conflict. It is possible to name the trust as the beneficiary of the pour-over will.  Pour-over wills often include personal assets.  Though personal property can be held by the trust, it is often unnecessary.  For example, who is to receive automobiles, family heirlooms, or memorabilia. 

Probate is a process

To learn more about pour-over wills, the probate process, and trusts, please call a probate attorney Allentown, PA clients recommend at Klenk Law.  We are happy to brainstorm options for your particular situation. It’s What We Do!

 

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