ESTATE PLANNING AND PROBATE ADMINISTRATION
Most people think that estate planning, that is writing a will or creating a trust, is just for rich people. In reality, anyone who owns property, real or personal, should consider writing a will because if you do not have one, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the State of New Jersey will do your estate planning for you.
Planning your estate helps to eliminate confusion and animosity among your family when the time comes to administrate your estate after your death. Without a will, a disagreement among your heirs as to the distribution of you assets once you've passed away will create a mess.
The only way to assure that your wishes will be carried out after your death is to visit an estate planning lawyer to write your will or create your trust.
The first step in the administration of a decedent's estate starts at the Register of Wills Office. At this time the designee named in the decedent's will also known as the executor (male) or executrix (female) petitions to probate the decedent's estate by filing a petition for Letters Testamentary. Likewise, in cases where the decedent leaves no will, a qualified person called an administrator (male) or administratrix (female) petitions to probate the decedent's estate by filing a petition for Letters of Administration that will allow that person to attend to the decedent's affairs as if the decedent was acting for him/herself.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has established procedures by which the Executor(ix) or Administrator (ix) also called a Personal Representative:
1. collects the decedent's assets;
2. pays the decedent's final debts and;
3. distributes the assets to the appropriate heirs.
Estate Administration procedures can be difficult for anyone in experienced in handling the affairs of a decedent to follow. Accordingly, it is wise to hire an attorney who knows Estate Administration in Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
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