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Klenk Law

Philadelphia Probate Attorneys Philadelphia Probate Attorneys

Whether you are planning for your future or in the process of resolving the estate of a loved one, it may be in your best interest to enlist the assistance of Philadelphia probate attorneys you can trust. Our team at Klenk Law knows the process of probate can seem not only daunting but also overwhelming. With our help, our experienced team of professionals can answer your questions and provide the guidance and representation you need. We know that many may dread probate, and when enduring the process, there are sure to be many questions; see below for the answers you are looking for: 

What is probate?

When a person has passed away, their estate must be passed through probate. Probate is the legal process of validating someone’s estate by settling debts and paying any estate taxes that may be owed. Perhaps one of the most critical components to probate for beneficiaries is the process of validating the will. Additionally, should someone die intestate (or without a will), probate can refer to intestate law to decide how assets will be distributed. 

Why is probate important? 

Many people would rather not tackle the probate process. However, Philadelphia probate lawyers share that probate is not just about ensuring that debts are paid, and taxes are settled. Probate is vital for checks and balances because it validates the will, ensuring that the will was correctly created. It also officially appoints the executor, allows the opportunity for the will to be contested, and manages situations where there is no will or beneficiaries who have been identified. 

Is probate as scary as it’s made out to be? 

Many people dread probate, especially when there is no will and the court is left to make decisions, or another person has contested the will. However, there are a few ways to mitigate problems. When a person puts forth proper planning, they can reduce problems down the road. Additionally, with assistance from a professional, it’s possible to retain wealth by heirs by decreasing the number of assets that must pass through probate. 

Are there ways to avoid the probate process? 

For many people engaged in estate planning, their first question is whether they can avoid probate. While it may be possible to circumvent probate, consulting with your lawyer will be in your best interest. With their assistance, they can help strategize your estate plan to mitigate the required assets to pass through. One of the best ways to avoid probate is by developing a trust, which can be an alternative to the last will and testament. 

What role does a probate lawyer play during the process?

Depending upon your needs, a probate lawyer can take on a variety of roles. When estate planning, our firm can strategize your estate plan by offering strategic solutions tailored to meet your specific needs. With our assistance, we can ensure that your wealth is retained and passed on to your beneficiaries. 

What questions should you ask a probate Attorney at the First Meeting?

Following the death of a loved one, the thought of going through probate for that person’s estate can seem daunting. It helps to come prepared before meeting with Philadelphia Probate Attorneys to help the process go smoothly.

Accumulate Important Documents

After scheduling the meeting, it helps to ask the Philadelphia Probate Attorneys what information needs to be brought by the client. Normally, these documents include the following:

  • The original of the Last Will and Testament for the deceased, or at least a copy if the original has already been filed with the probate court
  • If any documents have been already filed with the probate court, bring copies of these
  • If a living trust existed, bring copies of these documents
  • Copies of recent financial statements for the deceased, including most recent statements for the deceased’s bank accounts, retirement or investment accounts, and life insurance policies
  • Copies of any deeds for real property owned by the deceased
  • Copies of all bills for any obligations of the deceased
  • Death Certificate
  • A list of the names and addresses for all beneficiaries listed in the will or non-probate assets.

Questions Regarding Working with the Attorney

One of the main purposes of this meeting is to not only tell the attorney about the case but to make decisions about hiring the probate attorney.

Bring a list of questions to ask the attorney about his or her experience. Questions may include how long the attorney has practiced in probate law, what type of experience he or she has with the probate court that will handle the deceased’s estate, and what the attorney’s fees will be, as well as how they will be paid.

Payment varies depending on the attorney, but normally, once the estate account is open, fees are normally paid through that source by the personal representative or executor of the estate.

What Does Probate Involve?

Have the attorney walk the client through what to expect in the probate process, from start to finish. Most individuals are not aware of what happens after a will is filed with the probate court, and it helps to clear up any misconceptions or confusion.

One question can even be: is probate necessary. Some state probate laws do not necessarily require estates to go through probate court, but it is a good idea to protect the estate against any problems in the future and other liabilities. Ask the attorney how long he or she expects it to take, which can normally be six months to a year depending on how big the estate is.

What Are the Executor’s Legal Duties?

Normally, the individual meeting with the probate attorney after the loved one has died is the person already named in the will as the executor.

Have the attorney clearly describe what the duties of an executor or administrator are. Duties may include managing the estate property, distributing all funds to beneficiaries, and paying all outstanding financial liabilities of the deceased. Have the attorney explain what a fiduciary duty is and what this means when it comes to the executor’s actions.

How Are Creditors Handled?

Another question that can be helpful at this meeting is how will outstanding bills or financial obligations be handled? Under Georgia probate law, all creditors of an estate are entitled to be paid from the proceeds of the estate. If there are not enough liquid assets available from which to pay these creditors, sometimes the executor will have to make the decision to sell property to pay creditors.

Probate law also has a specific order by which creditors are to be paid. It is important that the executor get this information to appropriately pay creditors before closing the estate to avoid any future liability.

What If Someone Is Mishandling the Estate?

Sometimes it is not the executor who meets with the probate attorney. Certain situations do arise where a concerned beneficiary believes the current executor is mishandling the estate assets. Georgia probate law prohibits this and does offer legal recourse, but it needs to be taken quickly to stop these actions from happening.

When these situations do arise, it is almost always recommended that a probate attorney be hired given the complexity of the issues involved and how quickly things need to happen to protect the estate from further misuse.

What will happen if my loved one has died without a will?

A person who has passed away without a will has died intestate. While those with a will in place will have to endure probate, so will the estates of those who do not have a will in place. During this process, the judge who presides over probate court will make critical decisions such as assigning an executor to resolve the estate. 

How Can I Prevent My Will from Being Contested?

The grieving process for a family when they lose a loved one can be difficult enough, but when there are disagreements and disputes over the wishes of the decedent or whether their will is valid, that process can be much more difficult. When a person is preparing their estate plan, there are steps they can take to help prevent these types of disputes. The following is a brief overview. One of our Philadelphia probate attorneys can provide more specific information for your particular situation.

Making a Solid Estate Plan

The majority of contested estates and wills occur because one or more family members are not happy with how the decedent’s estate is to be distributed – more specifically – how that distribution will affect them directly. Making sure your family understands the reasons for your decisions and respecting those decisions is one of the key factors in minimizing the change of disputes, but also documenting that you were of sound mind when you made your decisions.

As you go through the estate planning creation process with one of our probate attorneys in Philadelphia, it is important to consider the needs and wants of your heirs. Are there items that you have that may be important to one family member but not to another, such as a piece of jewelry? Do you have family members that struggle financially that often need your assistance, but other family members who are financially secure? And if you own multiple properties, is there a family member who has the desire and financial ability to take over ownership of the home compared to another member who has no interest at all in it? These are the types of issues that you should consider when deciding how your estate should be distributed.

Once you have made your decisions, the next important step is to explain to your family why you made the decisions you did. Hearing this from you, along with why, is much better than finding out after you have died during the reading of your will. Having regular discussions with family members can go a long way in avoiding a contested estate and family fighting when you are gone.

Even after taking the above steps, there is still a chance that a family member will be unhappy with your decisions and still attempt to contest your will when you are no longer here. This is another reason why it is crucial to keep good records, as well as work with one of the skilled Philadelphia probate attorneys from our firm when it comes to actually drafting all the documents for your estate plan.

You also want to choose someone you can trust to follow your wishes as the executor of the estate. This can be a family member, friend, attorney, or other professional.

At Klenk Law, we know the process of estate planning can be daunting. For beneficiaries and executors, resolving an estate can be incredibly stressful. To mitigate problems down the road and ensure that your wishes are carried out as intended, reach out to our probate attorneys in Philadelphia.


What Our clients are saying

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I was referred to Peter after my divorce to put documents together to protect my assets. He suggested a number of documents that would help protect my children and their future. Also, he put together wills, power of attorney and living wills. I initially spoke with him on the phone, he took 30-40 minutes to understand my situation and explain the benefits of having such documents. After a week or two, I met with him in his office and signed the documents. Everything else was remote phone calls and emails. He re-explained these documents and what whom to share. I am in good hands.

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Peter Klenk made a complex subject understandable and allowed us to move forward with our estate planning. He was patient with our questions and creative in the solutions he proposed.

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We recently used Peter's firm to update our wills and trusts. We found he and his staff to be well-informed, professional and highly efficient. And equally valuable, Peter explains the law in terms that a layperson can readily understand.

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When it came down to picking the right attorney to handle my affairs, I knew right away it was this firm. From speaking to their secretary to speaking to Peter I knew I was making the right decision. After only a few mins Peter knew right away what I was looking for and handled all my questions professionally and even gave me great feedback that put my mind at ease. All that without even giving a single penny! So of course I hired him! So far so good...

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Peter and his staff handled all of our needs in a very professional and timely matter.

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