What happens to a loved one’s assets and liabilities when they pass away? Their real estate, their debts, their investments, etc.? It’s not the first question that comes to mind when we suffer a loss. Rather, we are overcome with grief and sadness, and we dealing with that emotional struggle. Yet, these estate issues will eventually come up, one way or another.
It is important to have an experienced estate administration attorney at your side during these trying times, for multiple reasons. First, there are various deadlines that arise in connection with your decedent’s estate. For example, any and all creditors have one (1) year within which to raise a claim against the estate, but that one-year time period does not begin to commence until you first publish a notice of your decedent’s death in two publications of general circulations. An attorney can do this for you right away.
Second, whether your loved one had a will or not, an attorney can walk you through the process of swearing in a legal representative to represent the decedent’s estate. This requires being “sworn in” at the county’s Register of Wills Office and obtaining what are known as “short certificates,” which the representative will need to open an estate account and deal with the decedent’s assets and liabilities.
Third, an attorney is experienced in handling inheritance tax issues – i.e., how to value certain assets, whether and how to list them in the Pennsylvania inheritance tax return.
Fourth, there are occasionally instances where some heirs challenge or question the distribution of a decedent’s estate, which can lead to litigation. If you have an attorney working with you from the get-go, your position will be stronger should a legal contest arise.
Finally, it is hard enough dealing with the emotional and psychological struggle of coming to terms with the passing of your loved one. The last thing you need, on top of all of that, is to have to handle these financial and legal issues.
The estate administration attorneys at Scanlon & Wojton, LLC, including their legal assistant, Catherine Mannion, are highly experienced and skilled in dealing with Estate Administration, and we would be honored to assist you through this difficult time.