Allison Park Estate Administration Attorneys Provide Effective Counsel

Experienced firm guides executors through the Pennsylvania probate process

If you’ve been given the responsibility of settling someone’s estate, the process might seem confusing, even if there are no apparent disputes over who receives what property. Located in Allison Park, the estate administration attorneys at Abernethy & Hagerman, LLC have more than 50 years of combined experience serving executors and administrators in Allegheny, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties. You can rely on us to explain your options clearly and to help you avoid common probate pitfalls. No matter how simple or complex the situation is in your case, we’ll take you through each step of the process so that the decedent’s assets are distributed in accordance with their will or Pennsylvania’s intestacy provisions.

Skillful lawyers advise on the state’s probate options

In Pennsylvania, it can take a year or more to settle an estate. Depending on the particular circumstances, we can help you navigate one of the following probate processes:

  • Grant of letters — Filing a Petition for Grant of Letters with the Register for Wills initiates probate proceedings in most cases. When the court accepts the submission, the individual who is appointed personal representative for the estate is provided with letters testamentary, giving them the authority to act on the estate’s behalf. From there, any beneficiaries must be notified and a newspaper advertisement must be purchased to give the decedent’s creditors an opportunity to present a claim to the estate. The Orphans’ Court has supervision over the process, but many estate administration duties, such as paying taxes, handling transactions and resolving disputes can be performed without court intervention.
  • Small estate petition — Within 60 days of someone’s death, their first successor (typically a spouse, child or parent) can submit a Small Estate Affidavit to Orphans’ Court if the value of non-real estate assets does not exceed $50,000. Small estate status allows estate representatives to bypass many of the formal requirements associated with standard probate.
  • Ancillary probate and administration — Real estate that is owned by a decedent who was not domiciled in Pennsylvania is transferred through ancillary probate if a legal will was in place. In cases where the property owner died intestate, the process is referred to as ancillary administration.

Life insurance proceeds, jointly held assets, property that has been placed in a trust and investments with a contingent beneficiary are not distributed through the probate system. Our knowledgeable wills and probate attorneys review the entirety of a deceased individual’s holdings and advise clients on what type of estate administration is appropriate.

Lawyers assist with estate administrator duties

In their will, a testator designates someone to serve as executor for their estate. Should no valid will exist, an administrator is appointed to handle the process of allocating the decedent’s property based on Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws. The executor or administrator is designated as personal representative for the estate and is responsible for bringing assets into the estate, paying the decedent’s creditors, preparing an inventory and transferring the property to the rightful beneficiaries. 

Choosing an executor for your will

Pennsylvania law only requires that a will’s executor be someone who is at least 18 years old and has not been judged to be mentally incapacitated. However, it’s in everyone’s best interests to take some time to consider who the best person is to represent your estate. We’ll explain some of the particular responsibilities to help you identify who might be able to keep track of assets, communicate with heirs and participate in court proceedings. In cases of intestacy or wills where an executor is not named or not available, the court appoints someone to serve as administrator.

Contact a thorough Western Pennsylvania estate administration lawyer   

Abernethy & Hagerman, LLC in Allison Park handles various estate administration tasks and offers knowledgeable guidance throughout the Pennsylvania probate process. Please call 412-281-8222 or contact us online for a consultation.  

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