Estate Matters
The Klenk Law Blog



Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My sister willed me a share of the proceeds of her stamp collection. The executor (our brother) told me that he sold the collection and sent me a check. I think the collection was worth much more. How do I get the executor to explain?

You have the legal right to force the executor to account for the stamp collection and give you the details of the sale. If you believe your share should be greater, you can object to his accounting.

Pennsylvania’s probate system gives a great deal of freedom without official oversight. This system relies on you, the beneficiary, to bring mismanagement to the Orphans Court judge’s attention. In your case, you could have us file a Petition for Accounting.

If you have questions about probate or estate accountings in Philadelphia, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.



Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My wife passed recently. We own a house together in Philadelphia in both names. She died with no other assets aside from our joint checking account. We have three children from our marriage and she has three children from her prior marriage. Does her half of the house go to my stepchildren?

First, Pennsylvania has no requirement that you leave your children any portion of your estate. So if your wife had a will, she could leave her entire estate to you and the children would have no claim. Assets can also be left at death by contract. Read more »



Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I have some very nice pieces of jewelry that I would like to make sure stays in the family, passing from oldest daughter to oldest daughter. Can I form a trust in my will to hold jewelry?

Yes, in your will, you can form a trust to hold almost anything. In the past, I have formed trusts to hold real estate, artwork, and even a rather unique chair. The trust’s terms can be crafted to suit your needs, including making sure your jewelry is held for the eldest daughter. Read more »



Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: Who inherits my father’s pacemaker? My father was cremated, but the attendants first removed his pacemaker for safety purposes. My sister says she wants it so her son can take it apart, as he likes gadgets. After doing some snooping around, I think that she wants it to sell on the black market. Who has a right to the pacemaker? I don’t want my sister to sell my dad’s pacemaker on the black market.

I have to admit, this is a new one to me. Some research has shown me that there are no pacemakers approved by the FDA for multiple use in the USA. So, without more information about the specific pacemaker, I cannot tell you if a sale is even possible (legally). Let’s address your question about who owns the pacemaker. Read more »



Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother passed away in Camden County, New Jersey divorced, with four adult children, leaving no will. She only owned a house, but it has a mortgage taken out by her boyfriend. How do we sell the house?

When a person dies a resident of New Jersey without a will, they die “intestate.” New Jersey has a set of rules that dictate who has the right to Petition the Camden County Surrogate to be named the Administrator of an intestate estate. In your case, all four children have this right. Read more »



Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I was surprised to learn that my uncle named me executor of his estate, but now I think I know why. My uncle was a private guy. In opening up a storage locker he had rented, I found what I could only describe as a mountain of gay porn. My uncle was a single man who never came out. I think he knew that I would handle this discovery discreetly, as his sisters are very homophobic. If they knew about this locker they would be really upset. I was going to just dump the locker contents, but a friend told me that this stuff might be worth as much as $20,000. As executor of my uncle’s estate, what do I do with his mountain of gay porn?

As executor, you have a duty to gather together estate assets for the beneficiaries. The porn you found is an asset, which might be worth a substantial amount. If you dump it into the trash and the beneficiaries find out and complain, you could then be found responsible for a ,000 loss, be “surcharged,” and have to put your own money into the estate. Read more »



Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: Before she died, my mother lived in my Philadelphia home and required around-the-clock care, which I provided. My brother and sister did not even visit. Now that she has died, her estate is being divided up between us and my siblings refuse to compensate me for all the work I did caring for our mom. Can I make a claim to be paid?

Your mother’s estate is to be divided up between the heirs as her will dictates, or through the rules of intestacy if she had no will. Prior to the division of the assets, all creditors will be paid. If you have no agreement showing that you were doing the work for a fee, it will be difficult to prove that you are a creditor. Read more »



Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am the administrator of my brother’s estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I have advertised the estate and paid all the valid creditors, but a neighbor of my brother has made a claim for $50,000 that I believe has no validity. Can I distribute the estate funds without paying him?

The quick answer is yes, but the right answer is that you should not.

As the executor, you are free to make “at risk” distributions. An “at risk” distribution is that may put your personal assets at risk. Your Bucks County Estate Administration Lawyer works hard to keep you out of trouble. If you ignore your brother’s neighbor, you could be putting yourself at risk. Read more »



Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: Who will get my Phillies baseball tickets at my death? I have season tickets and I go to most games. So, if I died during the season, I would have all the remaining tickets for that season. But, who would be able to buy the seats the following year? My will does not specifically say who gets the tickets. All my assets are divided between my two children, but they do not get along and they both would like the tickets. (But only one can really afford to pay for them each year.)

If your will says that all assets are divided equally between your children, then your remaining Phillies seasons Tickets would be part of that calculation. Your kids could split them equally, or one child could take them and the other some other asset of equal value. Read more »



Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My brother has filed a will with the Surrogate that I believe is not my mother’s will. I want to contest the will, but how long do I have to file the will challenge?

Once the will is filed and accepted by the Surrogate, to challenge the will you must have a complaint filed in the proper format with the New Jersey Superior Court Clerk. If you are a New Jersey resident, you only have four months to file the complaint. if you live outside New Jersey, you have six months. Read more »