Estate & Trust Administration

Different Types of Estate Settlement

Most people have heard of probate, which is the court-supervised administration of the estate of a decedent who left a will.  If your loved one died without a will (known as “dying intestate”), any assets which would have been governed by a will are instead distributed in accordance with a Pennsylvania law (known as the “intestacy law”).  Finally, many people believe that if someone dies with a revocable “living” trust, there is little or nothing that needs to be done.  Unfortunately, that is not true.  The estate still needs to be settled–including gathering and valuing assets, paying any taxes and transferring assets to the beneficiaries.

For those who are called on to oversee the administration of an estate or trust, the process can be overwhelming. Without clear direction, the assets of the estate may be improperly accounted for in violation of applicable court rules, expenses might be overlooked, and there may be disputes over which beneficiaries are entitled to specific assets.

What Estate Settlement Involves

While every estate is different, here is a partial list of what is required for a “typical” estate:

  •  Prepare a list of all of the assets owned by the deceased
  •  Determine value of all assets
  •  Close decedent’s bank accounts
  •  Open estate bank account
  •  Prepare and send beneficiary notices required by state law and certify to court that this was done
  •  Change decedent’s mailing address
  •  Cancel subscriptions, etc. and request refunds for unexpired terms
  •  Extend insurance coverage to protect estate for home, motor vehicles, etc., titled in decedent’s name
  •  File life insurance claims
  •  Prepare and file a Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return and, if necessary, a Federal Estate Tax Return
  •  Prepare and file Pennsylvania and federal tax returns, including both final lifetime returns and fiduciary income tax returns
  •  Pay any income, inheritance or estate taxes due
  •  Account to the beneficiaries (and, if appropriate, the court) for all assets received and spent during the settlement process
  •  Transfer assets to the beneficiaries

As if all of this wasn’t hard enough to accomplish quickly and while in mourning, some estates can be considerably more complex to administer, particularly when the estate is large or in situations involving disputes between family members.

Guiding You Step-By-Step Through the Settlement Process

Fortunately, you do not have to go through this process alone. We can work with you to determine the accurate value of the estate, resolve any outstanding debts and expenses, and efficiently distribute assets to the proper beneficiaries. If you are faced with the prospect of administering or probating an estate, we are here to help you every step of the way.