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Probate Estate Administration Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

Aug. 2, 2018

Regardless of age, today’s proactive society wants their next of kin to never fear their financial security. Seniors retiring, millennials just starting out, and everyone in between, all want to begin their probate & estate administration before it is too late.

Probate law is an offshoot of elder law that deals specifically with the administration of wills, assignment of executors and naming beneficiaries, to name some of their functions. The entire process, from start to finish, doesn’t have to be complicated, either.

A brief overview of probate process

It’s pretty simple. Look.

The main objective of the probate process is making sure an executor, perhaps called an administrator, is assigned to a loved one’s living will and testament. By obtaining either Letters Testamentary (for wills) or Letters of Administration (if an individual passed away without having created a will, the Register of Wills Office can assign the executor or administrator without an issue unless the assignment is later contested.

Normally, the probate attorney will petition the court to get you assigned as the administrator. Next, the attorney normally assists in securing the estate’s assets, such as retirement accounts or real estate. Attorneys, too, normally deal with any creditors that have an interest in the estate.

When it is time to probate the estate, an attorney will divide all assets within the estate according to how the estate was planned, with the assistance of the executor. This process can take six to nine months, or less, depending on any irregularities or contests.

Executors in Pennsylvania are paid according to Johnson Estate executor fee schedule, named after an epic 1983 court decision over the same. Judges will have the final determination as to the fairness of fees assessed, however.

Do I really need a probate attorney?

This may shock you.

The formation of wills and estates, along with probating estates, is an often complex process that many laypeople could not fathom. In fact, many attorneys work closely with their teams to file motions, phone people, correct errors, and more. The process is deep but necessary to assure the decedent’s wishes are granted according to law.

Performing estate planning activities without legal counseling may not only throw the probate process into disarray, but may leave off assets that can later be contested by creditors, long-lost family members, and in some cases nobody.

Costs associated with hiring a probate attorney pale in comparison to the money, headache, and family feuds you’ll save later. Moreover, without knowing that an executor is also a fiduciary, thousands in civil liabilities are possible if any part of an estate is irresponsibly controlled or divided.

Remember, probate estate administration may have complexities and an occasional headache, yet the loved ones who benefit from the distribution of assets will be forever thankful the process was carried out correctly. Do not try to handle estates alone; hire a probate attorney, and get the formalities behind the living will be done professionally.

Probates, estates, wills and all things elder law in Pittsburgh are what our firm does best. To request an initial consultation, go to our website,, or reach out by phone, (412) 804-4048, to get started immediately.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.