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I Can Answer Your Probate And Estate Administration Questions

Many people are not familiar with exactly what probate is or how estate administration functions and have a lot of questions. My name is Gregory L. Heidt, and I am an estate planning lawyer in Erie, Pennsylvania, with over 40 years of experience. I have prepared a list of some of the most common questions that I get involving probate and estate administration, along with some brief answers. If your questions are not answered here, then please call my office so that I can help you with your specific issues.

What is probate?

Probate is a process that is managed by the court system that exists in each state. Most people who die will need to submit their last will and testament to the probate court in order to have it properly enforced and to ensure that the executor is performing their duties. The court can also administer estates that are left by people without a will. Some people can qualify to avoid probate court under certain conditions, such as when the deceased’s property was held in trust or jointly held property and bank accounts, or if their estate is less than $50,000.00 with certain asset exclusions they can qualify for an expedited probate process.

What happens when someone dies without a will?

If someone has not created a properly executed last will and testament before they passed away, or if they attempted to and some or all of the will was found to be invalid, then they are deemed to have died intestate, a legal term for dying without a will. When someone dies intestate, their estate will still be passed through the probate court, however in this case the court will determine the beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate according to Pennsylvania law.

What is an estate administrator?

An estate administrator is identical in function to the executor of a will. They are both in charge of settling the debts of the deceased, paying the appropriate taxes for the estate and ensuring that the assets are properly distributed to the beneficiaries.

Can an administrator of an estate also be a beneficiary?

Yes, even if you are one of the beneficiaries of the estate you are still permitted to be the administrator of the estate. This is quite common in situations where a spouse passes away and their surviving spouse is appointed as the administrator of their estate, as they will be responsible for ensuring that all of the beneficiaries receive their proper inheritance.

How is an administrator of an estate appointed?

An administrator is appointed by the probate court when an individual dies intestate, which is a legal term meaning that they died without a proper will. The administrator will serve the same role as an executor, in that they will be responsible for collecting the assets for the estate, paying any creditors of the deceased from the estate as well as the appropriate taxes, and then distributing the remaining funds to the deceased’s heirs. The way in which heirs and their shares are determined through intestate succession, and it is determined by statute in Pennsylvania.

Contact My Office If You Have More Questions

If you still have questions about the probate and estate administration process beyond the ones I have answered above, then you can contact Gregory L. Heidt, Attorney At Law. You can call my office at 814-580-9495 or complete my online contact form to send me a brief description of your issues.