Scranton Probate Lawyer
All wills must pass through probate. Probate takes anywhere from a month to over a year, and greatly depends on the complexity of your specific circumstances, the experience of the executor, whether or not they have legal assistance, and potential missteps taken by the executor that lead to delays. A probate administrator can help reduce the stress involved in the executor’s job, not only protecting them from potential lawsuits, but also preserving peace within the decedent’s family, as the probate process has a way of stirring up old disputes, and creating new feuds. These are just some of the reasons why you should not hesitate to call the Scranton probate lawyers for help. We are experienced and eager to assist you.
What Does Probate Involve?
The executor of a will is tasked with many duties. The most important thing to keep in mind is your fiduciary duty—the duty to act in the best interest of the estate. By keeping this in mind, you can avoid many slip ups in the months-long process of probate. Some of the main steps for the executor or the “personal representative” involved in probate administration involve the following:
- Paying off creditors and debtors—The average American dies with $61,000 of debt, according to MSN. The executor must locate debts and loans, and pay them. However, not all debts need to be paid. Unnecessarily paying certain debtors will decrease the assets within the estate, leaving less for beneficiaries. Dealing with creditors can be stressful, as their practices may verge on the point of harassment.
- Paying taxes—The executor must pay all necessary taxes before assets can be distributed. This may involve filing income taxes for the decedent, and/or filing income taxes for the estate—the latter being necessary if the estate generates more than $600 annually, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If the decedent was a business owner, the executor must file for a new employer identification number.
- Paying funeral and burial expenses—All funeral, burial, and memorial costs should be paid through the estate.
- Locating and compiling assets—Depending on how organized the decedent was, it can be very difficult and time consuming to locate and compile the value of all assets. Assets include real property, bank accounts, retirement plans, pensions, savings accounts, and more.
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries—The distribution of assets to beneficiaries comes last, and involves bequeathing the personal property of the decedent. This is often the point of most contention among family members, who may challenge the will’s validity or even accuse the executor of violating their fiduciary duty or of stealing finances from the estate. The executor is entitled to compensation for the time and energy they put into their duties, and this payment may be another point of contention among bitter beneficiaries.
Reach Out to Our Experienced Scranton Probate Lawyer Today for Assistance
Whether you are planning on creating or updating your will, or you are an executor of a will, the experienced Scranton lawyers of Haggerty Hinton & Cosgrove LLP can provide invaluable assistance. To set up a free consultation with one of our probate attorneys, call us today at 570-354-5205.