When someone dies with property lacking a joint title holder or beneficiary that property is considered probate property. Probate property has to pass through a deceased person’s estate before it can be distributed to any heirs, legatees, or beneficiaries. The Personal Representative of an estate is responsible for following the directives of a decedent’s last will and testament or following the rules of intestacy.

The Register of Wills is the administrative body that handles this process. In the event that a proceeding exceeds the scope of the authority of the Register of Wills, the Orphan’s Court hears the matter. A skilled estate attorney can help you or your family deal with the following issues arising from the Orphan’s Court or Register of Wills:

  1. Opening an Estate. Correctly filling out the paperwork necessary with the Register of Wills to get the right estate opened for a decedent is essential. Making a mistake at this point in the process can delay the settling of an estate or force you to start over and change the type of estate opened.
  2. Deadlines and Forms. The Personal Representative of an estate is required to file a number of forms and reports in an estate. These forms are due at certain intervals after an estate is open. An estate attorney can not only help you complete these forms, but asks the right questions to make sure all the correct information is gathered and disseminated to the Register of Wills in a stress-free and timely manner.
  3. Taxes. In Pennsylvania, most folks inheriting assets owe inheritance taxes. Depending on the language in the will its critical the estate handle the taxes in the correct manner for the heirs, legatees, and beneficiaries. A probate attorney can not only make sure the taxes get paid properly but can assist in filing the tax returns and maximizing prepayment benefits and tax savings.
  4. Family Settlement Agreements. If an estate is administered properly, and all parties are in agreement, then no formal accounting is required. Instead, all parties can sign and agree to settle an estate privately. A skilled attorney is critical to ensure the right steps are taken to secure everyone’s agreement. Not only does this help promote consensus throughout the process, but it helps to guarantee the paperwork is done properly to make sure everything is legally binding, and well-understood. If no agreement is reached, then a formal accounting and hearing may result.
  5. Heirs, Legatees, and Beneficiaries: Sometimes, folks have questions about how someone else is handling an estate. If you are an interested person, but not the Personal Representative of an estate, you have rights too. A knowledgeable attorney can advise you of the process and make sure an estate is handled property both with the Register of Wills and the Orphan’s Court.

Consulting with an estate attorney about your loved one’s estate can save time, money, and headaches during an estate administration. The attorneys at Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott, & Halstad, LLP have the knowledge and expertise to assist you in administering an estate with the Register of Wills and Orphan’s Court. We have extensive experience with estate administration and probate all across Pennsylvania and have worked often with The Register of Wills for York CountyThe Register of Wills for Adams County, and many other registers across the state of Maryland.

Contact us today at (410) 848-4444 or by filling out the contact form on this page to get started.


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The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances.  No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Past results are no guarantee of future results.

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