Wexford Probate Lawyer

“Probate” refers to the process of interpreting a will and the subsequent transfer of estate assets that were once owned by a deceased person. When you’ve lost someone close to you, you’re focused on taking care of immediate arrangements, reaching out to loved ones, and making it from one day to the next as you grieve. The furthest thing from your mind is handling probate. A local estate planning attorney understands what you’re going through and could help with the Pennsylvania probate process, so things go as smoothly as possible.

A Wexford probate lawyer could help take the details off your shoulders, so you can feel confident in the process and concentrate on the personal side of things. We handle all the fine print now so you and your family do not encounter problems later. Reach out for dedicated assistance.

Overview of the Probate System

Laws govern probate, which is the process for how someone’s assets get administered after they pass away. If your loved one had a valid will, their property will be distributed according to the will. When there is no will, the laws of intestate succession apply.

Depending on whether a valid will exists, either an executor or an administrator will oversee the process with the court. An executor is specifically named in a will. An administrator is appointed when there is no will. The administrator is generally the deceased’s spouse, or an adult child if no spouse exists.

“Personal representative” is another term used to describe an executor or administrator. Multiple personal representatives are allowed, as long as they work together. A Wexford probate attorney could assist a personal representative in navigating the probate process during this sensitive time.

Property Covered by Probate

Not everything goes through probate. Probate is generally only necessary for property owned by the deceased solely in their name. This might include:

  • Art
  • Cars
  • Boats
  • Land
  • Homes
  • Jewelry
  • Collectibles
  • Bank accounts
  • Business interests
  • Stocks, bonds, and investments

Other kinds of property may also be distributed outside of probate. For example, jointly held property goes to the surviving owner. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, trusts, co-owned bank accounts, or other assets that have a designated beneficiary go directly to that beneficiary. A lawyer familiar with Wexford probate could help identify which assets need to be probated in a given situation.

Note that an expedited procedure exists for estates valued under $50,000 (excluding real estate and certain amounts paid directly to family members or the funeral home), so smaller estates can generally avoid probate.

Steps in the Probate Process

Probate can be complex, especially when the deceased owned significant assets, since the personal representative needs to identify all of the deceased’s property and accounts and notify all their creditors, among other responsibilities. However, the basic steps are as follows:

  1. File the will with the court to open the estate
  2. Be sworn-in as personal representative, obtain authority to access the deceased’s accounts, and open an estate account
  3. Provide notice to all creditors and beneficiaries
  4. Safeguard, appraise, and create an inventory of assets
  5. Pay off outstanding debts, bills, and other expenses
  6. File inheritance tax return and pay applicable taxes
  7. Distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries
  8. File final accounting with the court and close the estate

This seems straightforward, but complications could arise at every stage. An attorney in Wexford could provide assistance with each probate step, including notifying creditors, calculating taxes, and preparing court documents.

A representative could potentially make a mistake that leaves them exposed to personal liability, like paying beneficiaries before creditors from an insolvent estate. A lawyer could provide a personal representative with a checklist for meeting deadlines and help guard against missteps like these.

Request a Consultation With a Wexford Probate Attorney

When you are grieving a loved one, your priority should be providing comfort and solace to family members. If you have been named as executor or could be appointed as administrator, you could have additional legal responsibilities to take care of. It can be incredibly stressful to ensure everything is done efficiently, accurately, and in accordance with your loved one’s wishes. Fortunately, our attorneys are here for people in your situation.

Call today for a consultation with a Wexford probate lawyer and let us ease your burden.