Failing to Investigate Whether or Not Formal Probate is Necessary.
One of the mistakes we often see people make is rushing to open an estate before they’ve even properly investigated whether or not there may be other options available. Namely, not all estates will require formal probate proceedings. Many estates can be resolved by small estate petitions, by affidavit and sometimes by proof of death and other kinds of filings. If an alternative to formal probate is available, it can often save the estate and the beneficiaries a considerable amount of time, aggravation and money.
Failing to Properly Handle the Estate Assets.
Unless you’ve previously served as an Executor or Administrator of an estate, you’re probably not going to be too sure about how the probate process works and what steps will need to be taken first. Probably the most important step you’ll need to take right away is to secure all of the decedent’s property and assets as soon as possible. This might be as simple as closing a bank account or notifying a financial institution of the death, but may also mean locking up and taking physical control over the real property and all of the tangible contents located therein. Remember, as part of the process you’ll need to provide and inventory and also determine the date-of-death values of all of the estate assets.
Failing to Obtain Experienced Legal Assistance.
I can’t begin to tell you how many of our clients have jumped into the probate process without consulting or retaining an attorney to assist them, only to quickly find out that they were in over their heads and needed immediate help. Hiring an experienced estate attorney at the start will greatly reduce the likelihood that you’ll make mistakes and will ensure that the administrative process will be handled in a timely and cost effective manner.
Failing to Properly Deal with the Claims of Creditors.
Potential creditors of the estate must be given notice of the decedent’s death. Sometimes this notice is given personally my mail or telephone, but it is often accomplished by publication in the local newspaper and/or legal journal. Not following procedure as it relates to these kind of claims can result in a lot of potential problems down the road.
Failing to Properly Calculate and Pay the Inheritance and Estate Taxes.
All estates may potentially be subject to the imposition of state and federal gift, inheritance and estate taxes. In addition, the State of Pennsylvania may also impose a state level estate tax depending on size and value of the estate. Mistakes in calculating and paying these types of taxes can be costly. This is also probably the biggest reason of all why obtaining experienced legal assistance is so important.
American Wills & Estates is a locally founded, owned and operated law firm that has been assisting clients in Pittsburgh and throughout Western Pennsylvania with Estate Planning and Probate Estate Administration with competency, compassion and care for over 25 years. We have a number of convenient office locations and also provide home, hospital, evening and weekend appointments upon request. So, if you find yourself about to enter into the role of an Executor or Administrator and are not sure where to turn for trusted, experienced and, most importantly, affordable legal advice, give us a call today at (412) 381-7370 to schedule your free legal consultation or visit our law firm online. You’ll be glad you did.