Estate Administration

Estate administration is the process of collecting and managing the estate of the deceased. The estate may include real estate, money, belongings, etc. Part of the estate administration process includes the paying of debts, taxes, and distributing property to beneficiaries.

Should a will not be in place to determine the heirs, state intestacy laws will determine how the estate will be handled and distributed.

But knowing how to handle estate administration can be complicated. The estate planning attorneys of Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano understand this and are here to guide you through the process.

The Probate Process

It’s important to know that if a decedent dies with a will, the property is distributed according to that will. But, without a will, probate law will dictate how assets will be distributed. Families should know that probate may not be required depending on the amount of the property held. Also, if the property is held in a trust or jointly between parties, it does not need to go through the probate process.

Simply put, the probate process is three steps. The personal representative must: 

  • Assemble all the decedent’s assets;
  • Pay all outstanding debts including funeral expenses, creditors, taxes, and general administration expenses;
  • Distribute any remaining assets.

Types of Estate Administration

Depending on the size of the estate, the probate process can be more involved or rather simple.

For estates valued under $50,000, an expedited probate proceeding may occur. This amount excludes the value of real estate and payments to family and funeral directors.

Formal probate proceedings will occur for estates valued above $50,000.

What is and is not subject to probate?

Assets that must go through the probate process, formal or expedited, may include but are not limited to: property titled solely in the decedent’s name, personal property (such as jewelry, furniture, vehicles, etc.), bank accounts exclusively in the decedent’s name, and life insurance policies or brokerage accounts which list either the decedent or the estate as the beneficiary.

Assets that are not required to go through probate include property in a living trust, jointly owned real estate, life insurance policies and retirement accounts with a designated beneficiary, and bank accounts with payable on death or transfer on death clauses.

Inheritance Tax

Formalizing a deceased loved one’s assets can be challenging. But in the process, you may also find yourself dealing with inheritance tax for the assets you acquire.

In Pennsylvania, the inheritance tax rate is as follows:

  • 0 percent on transfers to a surviving spouse or to a parent from a child age 21 or younger;
  • 4.5 percent on transfers to direct descendants and lineal heirs;
  • 12 percent on transfers to siblings; and
  • 15 percent on transfers to other heirs, except charitable organizations, exempt institutions and government entities exempt from tax.*

*Exceptions include charitable organizations, exempt institutions, and government entities exempt from tax.

Estate Administration: Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano

The estate administration process can be complicated. But the Scranton estate planning attorneys of Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano can guide you through the process of protecting your estate while planning for your family’s future. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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