The estate planning team at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace regularly guides clients in Pittsburgh through the probate and estate administration process. Although probate law in Pennsylvania is designed to provide for a quick and efficient probate process, there are a variety of important matters that must be handled before an estate is closed.
Our probate attorneys advise executors about their important duties and work to ensure the instructions of the will are properly followed. We also work with clients to navigate estate administration proceedings when a loved one dies without a will.
Whether you have been named as the executor of a loved one’s estate or you need assistance being appointed as the estate administrator, we can help. We understand the challenges of managing a loved one’s estate during such a difficult time and will work closely with you every step of the way. Please reach out to our experienced probate and estate administration attorneys today.
What is the probate process in Western Pennsylvania?
Although the term “probate” sounds intimidating, it is simply the court-supervised process during which a will is validated and the executor named in the will is officially appointed to administer the estate. Our probate attorneys will work closely with you so that you can fulfill your important duties, including:
- Petitioning the probate court to validate the will
- Notifying the named beneficiaries and heirs
- Inventorying and appraising the estate assets
- Paying the decedent’s debts to creditors
- Filing the decedent’s final income taxes
- Paying federal estate taxes, if applicable
- Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries
Certain types of estate assets are not required to be probated, including:
- Real property in which title is held jointly, with right of survivorship
- Property held by a properly designed and funded living trust
- Life insurance policies and retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries
- Bank and investment accounts with pay-on-death (POD) designations
It is also important to note that state law provides for a simplified probate process for “small estates” (an estate valued at less than $50,000, not including real estate) whereby the executor is permitted to distribute the estate assets without going through the entire process.
In any event, an executor is considered to be a fiduciary. This means you must always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries — you can be held liable for mistakes or misconduct. For this reason, it is crucial to work with an experienced attorney. At Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace, we will provide you with trustworthy advice and make sure your interests are protected as you carry out your duties.
Pittsburgh Estate Administration Attorneys
If a loved one has died without a will in place, we will assist with having the probate court appoint an estate administrator, typically one of the heirs, a legal relative, or a close friend of the decedent. Above all, the person who is appointed must be capable and trustworthy and follow the proper legal procedures. Trust our experienced probate and estate administration attorneys to work closely with you and help you navigate the process.
What else do I need to know about probate in Pittsburgh?
For generations, clients have come to us with questions about probate-related matters, such as:
- Executor Compensation — Executors may be reimbursed for all legitimate out-of-pocket expenses related to the management and distribution of the deceased’s estate, as well as reasonable fees, which vary from location to location and depend on the size of the probate estate.
- Probate Cost/Duration — The cost and duration of probate depend on the size of the estate. Generally, the process can take between 9 and 18 months and the cost depends on probate fees (executor fees, attorneys’ fees, court filing fees), which can range from 5 to 7 percent of the total estate value.
Generally, small estates can be probated quickly and efficiently, however, larger estates may involve complex legal, financial, and tax considerations. In any event, the best way to protect your interests and avoid costly mistakes is to have the skilled representation we provide.
Contact Our Experienced Pittsburgh Probate and Estate Administration Attorneys
At Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace, we have the skills and experience to help you navigate probate and estate administration proceedings. Above all, we are committed to protecting the interests of personal representatives and estate administrators, as well as beneficiaries.
Well-versed in the Pennsylvania Uniform Probate Code, we are highly regarded for providing our clients with trustworthy advice and guidance. In the event of a dispute that rises to the level of a will contest, we recommend seeking a negotiated resolution, but we are highly experienced in estate litigation if the need arises.
We understand that losing a loved one is never easy, and we will be your trusted advisors, offering you compassion, knowledge, and dependable service. Please contact our office today to speak with one of our experienced probate and estate administration attorneys.