Estate Matters
The Klenk Law Blog



Posted on Thursday, February 26th, 2015 by Adam Reid

Some people believe they can disinherit their spouse simply by cutting them out of their Will. Those people should think again. In Pennsylvania, as in many states including New Jersey and Florida, a widowed spouse has the right to take under the deceased’s Will, or if they deem that as insufficient, an elective spousal share estate determined by law. Read more »

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Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

I am the executor of my mother’s estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I have sold the real estate, liquidated all the assets and am ready to distribute, but my sister will not give me a release of liability. What can I do?

You are right to be concerned. Prior to making distributions from the estate you should insist on getting a release of liability. This is typically done informally by using what is broadly referred to as a Family Settlement Agreement. Read more »

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Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

As the executor of an estate, your expenses incurred in handling the estate are reimbursed from the estate assets. Typical examples are filing fees, parking fees, and money that you pay to have the estate assets secured or cleaned. You are also reimbursed for reasonable travel costs that were incurred only because of the estate. Read more »

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Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2015 by Peter Klenk

I am the co-executor of my Mother’s Bucks County, Pennsylvania estate, along with her attorney. What fee can he charge?

First, if your Mother’s attorney is serving as the executor and will also be providing your mother’s estate legal services in Bucks County, the attorney should not be charging both an executor’s fee and a fee for legal services based solely on a percentage of the estate. Read more »

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Posted on Saturday, February 21st, 2015 by Peter Klenk

My father wants to transfer a rental property he owns in Montgomery County into my name. If he does, will this gift avoid Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax?

As a Montgomery County resident, at your father’s death, all assets he leaves you at death (except life insurance) will be subject to the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax at the 4.5% children’s rate. That includes all gifts made within one year of the date of his death. Read more »

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Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

I am the personal representative of my brother’s Camden County, New Jersey estate and all the assets pass into trust for his minor children. I am worried his ex-wife will object to everything that I do as executor as she is unhappy that she doesn’t get control over the children’s money. What can I do to avoid trouble?

This is one of those situations where no good deed goes unpunished. You are serving as your brother’s executor to make sure your nieces and nephews are properly cared for, but by serving as personal representative you are also responsible for any mistakes or errors you make that reduce the children’s inheritance. Read more »

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Posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2015 by Adam Reid

I am an administrator of my mother’s Delaware County estate. She died 4 years ago in a car accident without a Will, unmarried and survived by my nephew and myself. My brother died before my mother, and my brother had one son, my nephew. I opened up her estate with the Register of Wills in Delaware County. Later, I hired a lawyer to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the man who ran into my mother. That lawsuit is about to be settled, and my attorney is asking me to approve that settlement. The funds are to be divided 90% Wrongful Death and 10% Survival Action. Is this fair to my nephew, and as administrator, do I have a duty to pursue a different mix?

This is an issue you should certainly be concerned about. Read more »

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Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 by Adam Reid

Pennsylvania estate executors and administrators – known broadly as personal representatives, typically take the same first step when called to administer an estate. They research and find an experienced probate attorney to guide them through the process and establish that attorney’s fees. Why is hiring a probate attorney essential? Read more »

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Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

My Grandmother died three years ago in Montgomery County, leaving me a lump sum in her Will. The house is sold, the taxes are paid but I have not received my inheritance. The executor will not return my calls. What can I do?

As the heir of a Montgomery County estate, you do have the right to force the Executor to provide you with a time line when you will receive your inheritance. If the executor will not give you one voluntarily, you can have your Montgomery County Orphans’ Court lawyer file a Petition for Accounting with the Montgomery County Orphans’ Court. Read more »

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Posted on Monday, February 16th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

My father, a Camden County, New Jersey resident, is planning to leave me an inheritance in his Will. I have substantial creditor problems. If my father dies, can I disclaim my inheritance so it passes to my children?

In New Jersey, a disclaimer is an heir’s legal refusal to accept a gift or a bequest. In other words, you can’t force someone to accept a gift. If a Will names someone an heir or if a life insurance policy names a beneficiary, that heir or beneficiary cannot be “forced” to accept the gift. Read more »

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