After the death of a person, the person’s estate needs to go through the probate process and be settled – a process referred to as estate administration. In general, this process will involve collecting and inventorying all of the assets owned by the decedent, determining the estate’s tax and debt burdens, paying all creditors, and then distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries of the estate per the terms of the will. The process is time-consuming, technical, and often very complicated. At the law office of van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, our experienced Reading estate administration attorneys can help.
Call us today to learn more.
Inventorying the Estate
The first thing that needs to happen when administering an estate is that all of the decedent’s assets need to be identified and inventoried. Note that assets that are held in joint tenancy, such as a home with two names on the title, will not need to pass through the probate process (the court-supervised process of inventorying and distributing an estate) and will not be subject to distribution. That being said, cataloging assets can be extremely time-consuming and tedious, especially if the decedent died without a will that included details about assets.
Paying Creditors and Taxes
Once an administrator has completed the inventory process, the next step is to identify any debts of the estate and track down creditors. The assets held by the estate may need to be liquidated in order to pay any debts. During this phase of the process, the administrator will also need to consider the tax burden of the estate, including the inheritance taxes and federal estate taxes that may be due. Creditors and taxes should be paid before assets are distributed to beneficiaries.
Distributing Assets to Beneficiaries
Finally, any remaining assets in the estate will be distributed to beneficiaries. There are two ways of doing this:
- Per the terms of the will. If the decedent died with a will, then assets should be distributed to beneficiaries per the terms of this will. The will must be proved as valid before this process can begin.
- Following Pennsylvania intestacy laws. It’s not uncommon for a person to die without a will. When this is the case, then the estate will be distributed per the state’s intestate succession laws, which provide guidelines for who should get assets and in what order. For example, if a person dies with a spouse but no children, the spouse will get everything.
Work with an Experienced Estate Administration Attorney
Administering an estate after the death of a family member or another loved one is trying – not only are the probate and estate administration processes technical and complex, but you may also be dealing with feelings of grief and loss. At the law office of van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, our experienced Reading estate administration attorneys know what you’re going through and want to help. We understand the ins and outs of estate administration and can competently handle the process on your behalf.
For a consultation, please call our law firm directly today. We are here to serve you.