Pittsburgh Probate Attorneys
40+ Years of Helping Clients Plan for Their Futures in Armstrong, Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, Butler, Westmoreland Counties
If your loved one recently died (with or without a will), you may be wondering what needs to be done with respect to assets and property that person owned during their life – our Pittsburgh Probate Attorneys can guide you through this legal process. Call Herb & Winters Law today to schedule a consultation with one of our Pittsburgh Probate Attorneys today!
Probate of a Will in Pittsburgh:
A Probate Attorney in Pittsburgh from Herb & Winters Law can help guide you through the Probate process that includes but is not limited to things like:
- Will: As for the start of the probate process, the first step is to locate the most recent will – if there is one in existence – and ensure that it is kept in a safe place. The will is a highly important document, which is a required document to formally start the probate process. If you have the will in your possession, then we normally ask that you bring the will with you to your initial consultation. If you do not have the will in your possession, we can still have the initial consultation where we begin gathering preliminary information; however, before the formal legal process of probate begins – you will have to find the will.
- Death Certificate: Another important step is to get a copy of the death certificate. The formal probate process cannot begin without a death certificate. Generally, we have seen clients in the past get death certificates as quick as two weeks and as long as several months.
- Submitting Will to Probate: Once all the necessary documents are gathered, we will submit the necessary documents to the Register of Wills with the request that the Will be admitted to probate. A will being admitted to Probate by the Register of Wills is the first official act in the probate process. By issuing letters testamentary, the Register is formally allowing an Estate to be opened.
- Appointment of Executor or Administrator: If an executor is named in the will as long as that person is willing and able to perform the duties of executor, then the executor is appointed at the same time the will is admitted to probate. The executor is a fiduciary of the Estate who must act in the best interests of the Estate. A Pittsburgh Probate Attorney can help guide an executor through the probate process and inform them of their duties. If no executor is named in the will or if the executor named in the will is unwilling or unable to perform the duties of executor, then an administrator will have to be appointed. There is a statute that governs who will have priority to the position of administrator. An administrator performs essentially the same functions as an executor of the will. If you have questions about being appointed executor or whether you can petition to be administrator, then you should schedule a consultation with a Pittsburgh Probate Attorney with Herb & Winters Law.
- Sending Out Notices: Notices also have to be sent out to heirs listed in the will and heirs that would have taken at-law had their been no will. Notices are required by law.
- Identifying All Assets: During the probate process, you will want to be sure that you aware of all of the decedents assets and properties at the time of their death because all probate property will have to be accounted for and disclosed during the probate process.
- Tax Issues: At Herb & Winters Law, our Pittsburgh Probate Attorneys will help you with tax issues that need to be addressed during the probate process. Inheritance tax returns will have to be filed with the Department of Revenue. Currently, Pennsylvania inheritance tax rates are as follows: 4.5% tax applied to transfers to direct descendants, and other lineal heirs like grandchildren; 12% tax on transfers to siblings; and 15% tax on transfers to any other heir, with the exception of charitable organizations, exempt institutions and government entities that don’t pay any tax. No tax is applied to transfers to a surviving spouse or to a parent from a child under the age of 21. There also is a Federal Estate Tax; however, most people don’t have to worry about that because in 2023 the federal estate tax exemption is $12.92 million and can be combined between spouses to a total tax exemption of $25.84 million. If you have tax questions relating to probate, then call our law firm today to schedule a consultation with one of our Pittsburgh Probate Attorneys.
- Dealing with Debts: Another part of the probate process is settling debts that the Deceased owed. Depending upon the facts, some debts should be paid while there may be legitimate and perfectly legal reasons for not paying other debts. Some debts that legally must be paid can sometimes be negotiated down to a lesser sum. There are strict time deadlines that must be met to file claims against an Estate.
- Contested Estates: Contested estates can occur when someone fills a will contest challenging the validity of the probated will. Contested estates can also occur when disputes arise as to the administration of the Estate by the executor or administrator. The Probate Attorneys at Herb & Winters Law also have experience dealing with contested estates.
- Distributions: Distributions of assets can wait until the very end of the probate process. However, an advance distribution of assets can be made to beneficiaries if the executor allows such to occur and the beneficiaries are willing to sign certain paperwork that protects the Estate/Executor against an adverse risks should something happen before final distribution (e.g. unexpected Contested Estates).
How can I prevent the need for Probate?
If you are interested in learning how to avoid the probate process, then you should speak with one of our Pittsburgh Trust Attorneys from Herb & Winters Law.
While you cannot take measures to avoid probate after someone has died, you can take measures during your lifetime to either reduce or eliminate the need for probate, which could result in significant cost savings for your heirs.
What if the Person who is Deceased Died Without a Will?
You should click on and review the information from our “Inheritance Attorney” webpage.
Call our Pittsburgh Probate Attorneys Near You
In short, Pittsburgh probate attorneys at Herb & Winters Law can assist you with the probate process. Be proactive and schedule a consultation today with the Pittsburgh probate attorneys at Herb & Winters Law today, so that you can start getting answers to your legal questions.