A family member’s passing can be a very difficult time, and if you are named executor of that family member’s estate, the burden can seem insurmountable. Our firm has helped settle hundreds of estates and we know that no two are alike; however, our extensive experience in this field allows us to help you by making recommendations that will let the process proceed as smoothly as possible. We are familiar with probate and non-probate processes for wrapping up your loved one’s affairs.
A family member’s passing can be a very difficult time and the legal burdens can feel overwhelming. Our attorneys are compassionate and treat you like family rather than just another case. No task is too small to help you through this time. For example, our staff routinely balances bank statements and writes checks for the personal representative at no additional charge to the estate so you have less to worry about.
Our firm has helped settle countless estates and trusts. We know that no two are alike; however, our extensive experience in this field allows us to make recommendations that will let the process proceed as smoothly as possible. We are familiar with probate, trust, and non-probate processes for wrapping up your loved one’s affairs.
Many firms handle only simple or routine estate matters, but we do more. Our attorneys have represented numerous complex estates and trusts. We assist beneficiaries who want to protect their rights. We fight in court to protect the rights of our estate and trust clients. Let us stand beside you when the going gets tough.
The Estate Probate process is intimidating, and administration of an estate often lasts for more than a year. There are strict time deadlines and fiduciary duties that the law imposes on a personal representative (executor or administrator) of an estate. If you are the named executor in a Will, or your family member died without a Will, you need to know your responsibilities before you decide how to proceed. Our attorneys will explain your rights and responsibilities as the personal representative of the estate, giving you the power to make intelligent decisions.
If you decide to move forward as the personal representative, we will prepare legal documents necessary to administer the estate, like Petitions, Notices, Requests for Asset Information, Inheritance Tax Returns, and Final Accounts. We keep track of deadlines for the estate (and even some important non-estate deadlines) to make sure you do not miss anything. Our attorneys will advise you about how, when, and to whom to distribute assets from the estate to meet your loved one’s wishes and comply with the law. Our staff will even handle tasks like writing checks from the estate account to pay bills (you still have to sign the checks) and balancing the bank account. We take on these burdens so you can focus on your family during a difficult time.
Trusts come in many types, such as:
- Living Trusts act like a substitute for a Will.
- Testamentary Trusts are created by a Will when a person dies.
Supplemental Need or Special Needs Trusts are special entities that protect government benefits for disabled people.
- Irrevocable Income Only Trusts (also known as Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts) are often used to provide income to an individual while protecting assets for future generations.
- Charitable Remainder Trusts protect income for future generations while providing tax benefits because a charity will receive the final distribution of assets.
- These are only some of the types of trusts you may hear about. Because trusts are so varied, there is no one-size fits all approach to administering a specific trust.
Like the personal representative of an estate, trustees have legal duties. Often, good legal advice early in the process is significantly cheaper than spending money on an attorney later to fix a mistake. We have assisted hundreds of trustees maintain, administer, and distribute trust assets to meet their obligations.
Executors and trustees have control over estate and trust assets. If you are a beneficiary of an estate or trust, you may wonder about your rights. You may just need some idea of what to expect. Or you may need advice about something you believe an executor or trustee is doing wrong. We regularly advise beneficiaries regarding their rights and, if something appears to be wrong, their options to fix the problem.
ESTATE AND TRUST LITIGATION
Our attorneys frequently handle matters in court related to estate and trust litigation. Going to court can be scary. The fear, stress, and anxiety is difficult to manage. This is normal. Our attorneys get to know you so we can guide you through this process with our knowledge and experience.
We handle many different types of estate and trust litigation. This includes: seeking court approval to modify a Trust, seeking court interpretation of unclear provisions of a Will or Trust, seeking court confirmation or replacement of charitable beneficiaries, defending the actions of a personal representative or trustee in court, objecting to the actions of a personal representative or trustee in court, and negotiating settlements of disputed issues either before or during court involvement.
- Advised a client to not open an estate where debts of family member exceeded probate assets. Hassle of administering an estate was not worth the potential executor’s fee. (We could have received attorney fees; however, our job is to help determine what is in your best interest, even if it results in lower fees for us.)
- Assisted an executor concerned about representation by current attorney. We took over representation, obtained a court victory on interpretation of a Will provision and resolved administration of an estate worth more than $7 Million.
- Successfully defended an executor in court against a claim by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services that it was owed money and assets were improperly distributed to beneficiaries.
*No attorney can guarantee the same result in every case because the facts and circumstances of each case are different. The examples above are included to provide illustrations of work that we do, rather than guarantee the results we can obtain.