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Pennsylvania Probate and Estate Administration

How does probate work?

Estate administration is the process of managing the distribution of a deceased person's assets and property according to their will or state laws.  Trust administration, similarly, is the process of carrying out the terms of the trust and distributing property to beneficiaries or to additional trusts for their benefit.  Both estate and trust administration can be complex and time-consuming, which is why many people choose to work with a trusts and estates attorney to help them navigate the legal, logistical and tax aspects of this process.

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What should I know about the Pennsylvania probate process?

In Pennsylvania, the estate administration process begins with the appointment of an estate administrator, or executor. This person has many responsibilities including not only the management of the deceased person's assets, debts and taxes, but also many statutorily required steps and procedures.

One of the first tasks of the estate administrator is to gather and inventory the deceased person's assets. This includes real estate, personal property, financial accounts, and any other assets the person owned. The administrator may need to obtain appraisals to determine the value of certain assets, such as real estate or collectibles.  Bank accounts in the decedent’s name must be closed and moved to an estate account, for which an EIN must be obtained.

Once the assets have been identified, the administrator must pay any outstanding debts and taxes, and keep careful records throughout the process. The administrator may also be responsible for filing the deceased person's final tax return and paying any taxes owed.

In addition to those steps, there are other statutory requirements that must be followed in order to properly administer the estate. These requirements include giving notice—with specific information outlined in Pennsylvania law—and filing certification thereof with the court, using county-specific forms, to beneficiaries; placing an advertisement of the estate in two different newspapers, and ensuring no debt is owed to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

Finally, an inheritance tax return may need to be filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue if the decedent's estate is subject to inheritance tax. The return must be filed within nine months of the decedent's death, and it must include information about the assets of the estate and the beneficiaries who will be receiving them.  A discount may be obtained if filed within three months of the date of death.

Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the administrator can begin the process of distributing the remaining assets to the heirs or beneficiaries. If the deceased person had a will, the executor will follow the instructions in the will to distribute the assets. If there is no will, the assets will be distributed according to Pennsylvania's laws of intestacy, which outline how property should be divided among family members in the absence of a will.  Releases should be obtained by the administrator so as to protect him/her from any potential liabilities that may arise.

It is important to note that these are just a few of the processes for administering an estate in Pennsylvania. There may be other requirements that need to be followed, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. If you have questions about the requirements for administering an estate in Pennsylvania, you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law.

It’s okay to ask for help.

Overall, estate administration is a complex and often emotional process. Working with an experienced estate administration attorney can help individuals ensure that the process is handled efficiently and smoothly, and that the deceased person's assets are distributed according to their wishes.

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To get started, please book an initial 15 Minute Consultation with Curran Estate & Elder Law, PLLC
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Client Success Stories

Very helpful. Staff genuinely cared about our needs.
Dan Clouser
October 26, 2022.
A delight to work with. Curran Estate Services are truly in the business of helping people!
Julie Krasley
September 29, 2022.
Very thorough. Friendly, compassionate, knowledgeable staff.
Ron Hirneisen
August 31, 2022.
5 Stars is not enough! If I could, I would give Curran Estate & Elder Law a 10-star review … and here is why: • They listen to you and your situation. The first question Sean asked me was, “How about we begin with you telling us about your family and the need for our services?” I had come to them as a caregiver for a spouse with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Both of us were in need of Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney, Last Will & Testaments, and Living Wills. • They really do care about you and your family. The February day we were to meet with Sean to have the legal documents signed, a snowstorm began. Rather than have my homebound spouse go out in the weather, Sean, Lois, and Susan came to our home. The Curran Estate & Elder Law team takes a genuine interest in you. As we were going through the process of selecting persons to be our Powers-of-Attorney, the Curran Team wanted to know about each person we chose. • They know what they are doing. Sean and the Life Care Team reviewed our particular situation and made recommendations based upon our needs. They do not have a “one size fits all” approach to their work. • They communicate very well and explain things thoroughly. Each staff member is very good at explaining what each legal document means. • They completed the necessary work in a timely manner. In a surprisingly brief amount of time, we were notified that all the legal documents were complete and could be reviewed at our convenience. The Life Care Plan offers the expert services of the law firm plus a compassionate Elder Care Coordinator. I have leaned on the Elder Care Coordinator for helpful guidance and suggestions. I have received an immense amount of help from the Elder Care Coordinator when placing my loved one in various skilled nursing and memory care facilities. I am relieved in knowing I have the Elder Care Coordinator as a trustworthy guide through these days. For the last 18 months, by utilizing the services of Sean Curran and the Life Care Program Team, I have found relief and peace of mind in knowing that my loved one will be taken care of for the balance of her life. With gratitude, Rev. Paul L. Jones
Bahia Paw
July 20, 2022.
Fantastic top-notch law firm . They do professional and thorough work. They have fantastic and helpful work ethic. Great personalities and thoughtful. Our family feels protected and satisfied with the work Curran Law does. Thank you all.
james walker
May 31, 2022.
The entire Curran Estate and Elder Law team is fabulous! They are so kind, caring and patient. Not like your typical lawyers. Highly recommend them to help navigate the complex elder law and Medicare system.
Nancy Panza
May 10, 2022.
Suffering the loss of a loved one and having to deal with the probate process can be overwhelming. Gina was very professional and compassionate while helpng me through the process. What was becoming a nightmare for me was completely and quickly resolved. Everyone I came in contact with in the office was very kind and helpful.
Joanne Malys
May 5, 2021.
Sean deserves 10 stars ! But I can only give him 5 stars! He is caring & honest.. I am from out of state, and I needed help with elder care law concerning a family member. Sean returned all my phone calls and emails in a timely fashion. His prices were reasonable. I'd recommend Curran Estate & Elder Law to anyone who needs elder law services!
Ed K
March 18, 2021.
Extremely compassionate, knowledgeable and understanding during an extremely stressful, life changing event. Thank you for your patience and support.
M M
March 8, 2020.
Curran Estate & Elder Law, PLLC

1212 Liggett Ave.
Reading, PA 19611

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