Probate/Estate Administration Planning For Your Future

Probate Lawyer in in Montgomery County

Also Serving Philadelphia County, Merion Station and Surrounding Areas

Probate can be a confusing and frustrating process, especially when you are dealing with the passing of a loved one. At Sallen Law, our Merion Station probate attorney proudly offers trusted legal support and guidance throughout the probate and estate administration process. Our team provides a holistic approach and works to ensure our strategy properly addresses all aspects of your life. We are here to answer all your questions, help you understand everything you need to know about probate and estate administration, and provide dedicated advocacy from start to finish.

What Is Probate and Estate Administration?

Probate is when the court assesses the validity of a person’s will after they die. Estate administration is the process of distributing the decedent’s estate (i.e. the assets of the person who died). If the decedent had a valid will, and no one contests it, the court will distribute assets according to the decedent’s wishes conveyed by the will. If the will is invalid, or the decedent never created a will, the court will distribute their assets according to Pennsylvania’s laws of intestate succession.

The probate process generally involves the following 5 steps:

  1. Beneficiaries or heirs receive a notification of the probate process.
  2. The probate court appoints a personal representative to manage the estate administration process. This person is called the executor if the will designated them. If there was no will, or the will did not name an executor, the person is called an administrator.
  3. The executor/administrator oversees and conducts the inventory, appraisal, and sale of assets in the estate.
  4. The executor/administrator pays off debts and taxes using the estate’s funds and any proceeds from sales.
  5. The executor/administrator distributes remaining assets among the decedent’s beneficiaries (i.e. individuals or organizations listed in the decedent’s will or trust) or heirs (if there was no will).

In some cases, probate is simpler or more complicated than these 5 steps. Beneficiaries or heirs may contest the will, file a complaint regarding the executor, administrator, or trustee’s decisions, or otherwise dispute the estate administration process. When you enlist the support of our probate lawyer at Sallen Law, she can make sure this process is as fair and stress-free as possible. She can also provide dedicated and skillful estate litigation services to protect your best interests and secure a fair resolution for everyone involved.

The Personal Representative’s Responsibilities

The personal representative (either the executor or administrator) has many fiduciary duties. In general, this person must do their best to carry out the wishes of the decedent.

More specifically, they will need to:

  • Locate and appraise funds and assets in the estate
  • Pay off debts and taxes using the estate’s funds or proceeds from sales
  • Complete other financial tasks (e.g. file the final tax return, close accounts, etc.)
  • Distribute funds and assets to beneficiaries according to the decedent’s wishes

The personal representative must act not in their own interests but in a way that carries out the decedent’s final wishes and prioritizes the interests of the beneficiaries or heirs.

To be a personal representative, you must be 18 or older, and you must be of sound mind. You do not have to live in the same state as the decedent.

You can contact us online or call (215) 809-3900 to schedule your free phone consultation today. We look forward to helping you navigate this challenging legal process.

Can Probate Be Avoided?

Probate costs money. It can also take many months to complete, and the court process publicizes families’ private affairs. For these reasons, many people want to know how they might avoid probate entirely.

Some types of property are considered “non-probate assets,” meaning they can automatically skip probate. Jointly owned property, for example, will generally go to the surviving owner without probate. The same goes for funds with designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance proceeds, payable-on-death accounts, and other retirement funds.

That said, an asset does not need to be a non-probate asset in order to skip probate. Some estate owners help their beneficiaries avoid probate entirely by placing all their assets into a trust. Not every type of trust will accomplish this goal, which is why Sallen Law is here to help you understand your options and implement the most effective legal strategy for your estate and loved ones.

Although many try to avoid probate at all costs, it does not need to be the painful or complex process that many people believe it to be. With professional support, you can put the documents in place to ensure the probate process is both efficient and cost-effective.

Advocating for Heirs, Beneficiaries, & Personal Representatives

If you have been named the administrator or executor of an estate, we are here to help you fulfill your fiduciary duties. Many people will be depending on you to complete complex legal and financial tasks, and the consequences of breaching your duties may be severe. Our probate lawyer in Merion Station can walk you through the process from beginning to end, providing the knowledgeable counsel and compassionate support you deserve.

If you are an heir or beneficiary, we can help you understand and preserve your rights, contest the will or trust, and complete any other probate-related tasks. In some cases, personal representatives breach their fiduciary duties by acting in their own interests or mishandling the decedent’s estate. If you believe this has occurred, we can help you hold the representative accountable for their actions or failures. In short, we are here to fight for your wellbeing so you can take all the time you need to grieve and heal.

Fiduciary Succession and Family Harmony

Having handled hundreds of cases, our attorney has helped clients navigate complex family dynamics and disputes. Probate and estate administration can potentially add a great deal of stress to an already challenging ordeal. As a mother, Attorney Sallen understands the fear that children will lose the relationships they have with each other because of probate-related arguments and lawsuits. However, she firmly believes in the power of estate planning to prevent these disputes, and she skillfully guides her clients through processes like probate and estate administration in a way that preserves familial relationships and secures the fairest possible resolutions for everyone involved.

Give us a call at (215) 809-3900 or send us an online message to schedule your free phone consultation today. We look forward to putting our experience to work for you and your loved ones.

Opinions That Matter

Our Testimonials
  • “It's been a pleasure to work with Rebecca Sallen for her in opening up my trust.”

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  • “She is empathetic, probes to find what really matters to you, and constructs documents that reflect your values.”

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  • “We feel very secure knowing that we have a comprehensive "living document" document that covers our current and future needs.”

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