What do I do now that my loved one has died?

Posted by Mark Van Horn, Esq.Dec 11, 20230 Comments

Van Horn Law and Estate Administration:

Van Horn Law or any law firm specializing in estate planning and administration can assist you in the following ways:

  1. Legal Guidance:

    • Provide legal advice on the estate administration process, ensuring compliance with Pennsylvania laws.
  2. Probate Assistance:

    • Guide you through the probate process, including filing the will, appointing an executor, and managing court proceedings.
  3. Asset Distribution:

    • Assist in the proper distribution of assets according to the decedent's wishes or intestate succession laws.
  4. Debt Settlement:

    • Help navigate the payment of debts and taxes from the estate's assets.
  5. Estate Tax Planning:

    • Provide guidance on minimizing estate taxes and ensuring compliance with tax filing requirements.
  6. Legal Representation:

    • Represent you in court proceedings if any disputes or legal challenges arise during the estate administration.


Estate Administration Process in Pennsylvania:

1. Probate and Non-Probate Assets:

  • Probate is the legal process of proving a will and settling the estate of a deceased person.
  • Non-probate assets, such as life insurance proceeds and assets held in trusts, bypass probate.

2. Filing the Will:

  • The first step is filing the will with the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent lived.

3. Appointment of Executor or Administrator:

  • If there's a will, the person nominated as the executor in the will typically applies to the Register of Wills for appointment.
  • If there's no will, an administrator is appointed according to the state's laws of intestate succession.

4. Inventory and Appraisal:

  • The executor must prepare an inventory and appraisal of the decedent's assets.

5. Notice to Creditors and Debts:

  • Notice of the probate must be given to creditors, and the executor must pay valid debts from the estate.

6. Tax Filings:

  • The executor is responsible for filing the decedent's final income tax return and, if applicable, an estate tax return.

7. Distribution of Assets:

  • After debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the will or intestate succession laws.

8. Final Accounting and Closing the Estate:

  • The executor provides a final accounting to the court, and once approved, the estate is closed.