I have been working exclusively as an estate administration paralegal since 2003. During this time I have seen a common thread of misconceptions regarding the process.
- I am the Executor of Grandmom’s estate – I have to take the will to the Courthouse and be sworn in (commonly referred to as “probate the estate”).
Maybe or maybe not. It depends on the amount of assets in the decedents name alone. There are rules for dispositions of assets independent of letters. If you have recently lost a loved one and need guidance determining whether or not you need to probate the estate, an attorney from Marshall Parker & Weber would be glad to meet with you to address your questions.
- When Is The Reading of The Will?
Well, actually there usually is no reading of the will except on legal TV dramas. PA Code Rule 5.6 “Notice to Beneficiaries and Intestate Heirs,” sets forth the official requirements for notice. Notice must be given within three months after the grant of letters consistent with the Rule. Any named beneficiary in the Will or any intestate beneficiary must be given the proper notice via mail. The Executor or Administrator must also file a Certification of Notice with the Register of Wills within 10 days after giving notice. Here at Marshall Parker & Weber, we take care of mailing the Notices and filing the Certification of Notice within the required deadline period. This is an example of the ways we alleviate the stress of dealing with technical administrative details for the estate Executor or Administrator.
- Estates can be settled in six months or less.
Not really. In reality the estate administration process usually takes at least twelve months. Many people are shocked to hear this time period and wonder why in the world the process can take this long? There are multiple reasons for the length of the estate administration process, the main ones being:
- Any estate creditors have the right to come forward with claims for one year from the date of the first advertising of the estate. The Executor/Administrator (with the help of legal counsel) runs an estate advertisement which starts the beginning of the time period for creditors to come forward.
- The length of time for approval of the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return by the Department of Revenue. This time period varies from year to year, but right now we are seeing that it is taking the Department from five to six months to approve the inheritance tax return. The return itself isn’t due for filing until nine months from the date of death.
- Income tax preparation. We want to make sure that the deceased final income tax returns are filed in a timely manner as well any fiduciary income tax returns.
This does not mean that there can’t be an advance distribution to the beneficiaries prior to estate finalization. We here at Marshall Parker & Weber do our best to finalize the estate as quickly as possible for our Executor/Administrator clients, while making sure they are protected by the appropriate legal filings and release forms.
This article was written by Shelby Weber, Estate Administration Case Manager, Marshall, Parker and Weber