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Administering Your Estate: What Happens After You Pass Away?

Estate Administration or Probate in Pennsylvania is a legal process that occurs after a person has passed away. As part of the process, a personal representative is appointed by opening an estate at the County Register of Wills where the decedent resided at the time of his or her death. It is the job of the personal representative to settle the decedent’s affairs by paying debts, filing an inheritance tax return, and distributing the decedent’s assets to their heirs.

While estate administration may seem like a fairly straightforward process, there are a number of rules and regulations regarding notices, administrative procedures and reporting requirements that must be strictly followed. If you have a Last Will and Testament or a Revocable Trust in place at the time of your death, it will designate the person you chose to serve as your personal representative. This individual will be called an Executor/Executrix if you had a Will, or a Trustee if you had Revocable Trust. He or she will be in charge of managing the estate administration process, which will be different, depending on whether you had a Will or Revocable Trust.

If you pass away without a Will or Revocable Trust, you are said to have died intestate. If that is the case, the appointment of your personal representative (Administrator) and the distribution of your assets to beneficiaries will be governed by the intestacy laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This process can often be a difficult one if the family dynamics do not allow for cooperation among the personal representative(s) and/or beneficiaries. In each of these aforementioned scenarios, it is extremely important to consult with a trusted attorney at Zacharia Brown who can help guide you through the Estate Administration process.

Over this past month, we have outlined the importance of establishing or revisiting your Estate Plan as one of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2017. We explained the significance of Durable Powers of Attorney, both Financial and Medical, along with your Living Will, and their roles in allowing an Agent to manage your affairs and carry out your wishes should you become ill or incapacitated. Additionally, we elaborated on the difference between assets passing to beneficiaries by your Last Will and Testament or by beneficiary designation.

Don’t put off this important New Year’s Resolution! You can contact Zacharia Brown at 724.942.6200 or schedule an appointment online at PittsburghElderLaw.com. A properly drafted estate plan will not only provide you peace of mind, but it will also serve to take a great burden off of your loved ones at a very difficult time.

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