Administering A Deceased Individual’s EstateWhat Happens To An Estate Once The Individual Passes Away In Pennsylvania?

If you have a will, the will typically names an executor or an executrix, potentially multiple ones, to an estate. Attorney Tom McLaughlin does not encourage his clients to have numerous executors of an estate.

Once the estate owner passes away, the person designated as the executor would be in charge of the estate, whether or not they wanted to hire an estate attorney to help them. The executor would need to complete necessary paperwork, such as obtaining the original death certificate and the original will and take that paperwork to the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent resided or received their mail. The executor would then open an estate, which involves them being granted the Letter of Testamentary or Letter of Administration, depending on whether there’s a will in place.

The Letter of Testamentary or Letters of Administration give the executor specific abilities to act on behalf of the deceased. They might be able to cash out or transfer ownership of investment accounts, sell real estate, sell vehicles, transfer titles, and potentially could be able to operate a business (depending on the circumstances).

These situations are all what somebody with a short certificate granted to them by the County Register of Wills will be able to proceed and administer. Administering the estate at involves gathering and garnering all the assets the estate might include. It also involves finding out what obligations were in place at the time of death and what obligations occur and arise in administering the estate.

Assuming there’s sufficient money or assets in the estate that can satisfy all the obligations that the estate has, all this information must be recorded on an Inheritance Tax Return for the state of Pennsylvania. The tax document will be submitted to the Register of Wills in the county and the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue through the executor. Then, the executor will wait until the state accepts the return as it’s filed and accepts the amount of taxes owed.

The only party in Pennsylvania that can escape paying estate taxes, for the most part, is the spouse. Children are taxed if they receive inheritance from their parents, and an unrelated third party is also taxed. The tax rate varies and increases the further the survivor is from the decedent, and in terms of heir and lineal relationship to the deceased.

How Long Do You Have To Settle An Estate In Pennsylvania?

“Settling” an estate, if filing the proper forms, can go on for years. Sometimes disagreements require a lengthy time frame, or other issues happen, such as you need to sell a house at the estate and can’t find a buyer. Maybe it’s a down market and you feel that, as the executor, it’s better to hold the property until you can sell it. So, until that is sold, you may be unable to pay the estate’s bills in full.

So, it may take quite some time to resolve an estate. There are certain forms that you must keep appraising the court about the estate administration’s status. There is a rule that if you pay the tax in a certain amount of time, right after death, you can pay the taxes at a slight discount. If you go past a certain amount of time past the date of death for any reason, the Department of Revenue will typically charge interest on the taxes owed.

For more information on Administering A Deceased Individual’s Estate, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (717) 990-7178 today.

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