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Philadelphia County Estate Litigation FAQ

Accountings, Compelling and Defending

What are Objections to Accountings?

To obtain a full release of liability, an agent under a power of attorney, an executor or administrator of an estate or a trustee of a trust must either be released by the beneficiaries or obtain a release from the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court. If the beneficiaries will not sign a release, the fiduciary must file an accounting. This accounting must be served on the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries then have a right to file objections to the accounting. By filing objections to the accounting the beneficiary then obtains the right to appear in front of the judge to dispute what the agent, executor or trustee has done.

May I Voluntary File a Formal Accounting?

An agent, trustee or executor may choose to file a formal accounting with the Philadelphia Orphan’s Court even if the beneficiaries have not demanded that he or she does so. This is common when beneficiaries refuse to voluntarily release the agent, trustee or executor. Without a release from the beneficiaries or from the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court, the agent, executor or trustee may be forced to account after assets are distributed, which means that the expenses might have to be paid out of the fiduciary’s own pocket. A court reviewed and approved accounting brings the process to a close.

What Can An Estate and Trusts Attorney Do When There are Objections to an Accounting?

An accounting must be filed in a specific manner following the rules created by the court. Creating the accounting, and reading and analyzing the accounting is a skill set learned after years of experience. If drafted and filed correctly by a Philadelphia estate litigation attorney, many objections may be avoided and much money saved. A trusts and estates trained attorney can also work with a beneficiary to help explain the accounting and, if necessary, file objections to what the beneficiary finds objectionable. The objections must be filed in a specific manner and if done correctly the first time, will save the beneficiary time and money.

Who Pays the Trusts and Estates Attorney When Objecting to an Accounting?

The beneficiary or other interested party objecting to an accounting filed in the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court pays the attorney, but the judge may order this fee paid from the estate or trust, or if the judge finds the fiduciary has acted wrongfully, even from the agent, executor or trustee’s personal funds. The agent, executor or trustee may also hire an attorney. The estate pays this attorney, but if the judge finds that the agent, executor or trustee has acted in bad faith or caused the beneficiary harm, the judge may order the fiduciary to repay this fee.

Why Do I Need a Trusts and Estates Attorney When Objecting to an Accounting?

If you are objecting to a formal accounting from a Philadelphia agent, executor or trustee or if you are a Philadelphia agent, executor or trustee and objections have been filed against your accounting a judge in the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court will be hearing your case. It is in your best interest to retain a Philadelphia estate litigation attorney with experience in accountings. Each court has unique procedures and rules, which must be followed. The objections, and the responses to the objections, must be produced in a very specific manner using the rules of the court. Understanding the accounting procedures and the process by which the judge expects objections and responses to objections to be handled is a skill set learned only after many years of experience.

Our firm has decades of experience with Philadelphia accountings. We can walk you through this complex area and help you understand its subtleties. Let us use our experience as your estate attorney.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference. Let our experienced Philadelphia estate litigation attorneys defend your rights!

Beneficiary Representation (advice, keeping an eye on an executor/trustee)

Can a Beneficiary Hire an Attorney?

What Help can an Estate Attorney Provide to me as a Beneficiary?


Often beneficiaries of Philadelphia estates and trusts will retain our firm to represent them, even if there is no immediate need to file a cause of action in the court. Unless you have years of experience with the rules and procedures surrounding an estate or interpreting a trust, you will likely find this area strange and confusing.

One of the strengths of our estate attorneys is the ability to explain these complex matters in a way that you will understand. We can walk you through the interpretation of a will’s terms, or the obligations under the terms of a trust. We can also help you understand the tax complexities surrounding these entities.

At times, we also find that an executor or the trustee of a trust may simply need some supervision. A letter to a Philadelphia executor or trustee announcing that you have retained an experienced Philadelphia estate litigation attorney might be all that is needed to prevent what might otherwise develop into fiduciary misconduct or even a breach of fiduciary duty.

If you are a beneficiary with questions about a will being probated or the actions taken by a trustee, Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced Philadelphia estate litigation attorneys.

Wills, Trusts and Estates, it is all we do!

Beneficiary Rights:

What Rights Do I Have as a Beneficiary of a Philadelphia Will?

What Rights Do I Have as a Beneficiary of a Philadelphia Trust?


At one time the beneficiary of a Philadelphia estate or trust had few rights, and executors and trustees held the upper hand. This has changed.

Changes in the law have given beneficiaries legal rights to gather information and to more easily challenge the actions taken by executors, trustees and agents. By retaining Peter Klenk and his team of litigation attorneys and paralegals, you will have our decades of experience focused exclusively on estate matters on your side. We can help and advise you as the beneficiary of an estate or trust, or to help you if an agent under a power of attorney has abused his or her power. We can help make sure things are put right and that you obtain your rightful inheritance. Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Surcharge

What are Examples of Breaches of Fiduciary Duty?

What is a Surcharge?

How Do I Bring a Surcharge Action in Philadelphia?

How do I Bring an Action Concerning a Fiduciary’s Breach of Fiduciary Duty in Philadelphia?


You could have one of our Philadelphia estate litigation lawyers petition the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court if you believe a fiduciary has committed any of the following acts:

  • Failure to provide required and requested information to beneficiaries of a trust;
  • Embezzlement or fraud committed by the executor or trustee;
  • Fraudulently transferred assets from an estate to the fiduciary or a member of the fiduciary’s family during the process of administering the estate without permission of the beneficiaries, especially if not for fair market value;
  • Intentional or negligent oversight or investment of assets held by an estate or a trust;
  • Given the difficulty of the given estate assets, failing to conclude the estate administration process of an estate in a reasonable amount of time;
  • Removal of property from an estate by an executor or a trust by a trustee without approval of the interested beneficiaries;
  • Failure to follow the terms of a trust, including failing to make distributions to the beneficiaries in a timely fashion;
  • Failure to carry out the instructions and wishes of the deceased as described in the will, and;
  • At times, having an intractable conflict between a trustee and a beneficiary can be found to be grounds to remove and replace the trustee.

What does Breach of Fiduciary Duty Mean?

Under Pennsylvania law a fiduciary is a person or professional entity, such as a bank, that holds a special relationship of trust and responsibility to another person. Typical examples of fiduciaries are executors, personal representatives, administrators, trustees and agents. If a person or entity has agreed to take on the position of fiduciary, then they are held to have a duty to execute the responsibilities of that position. If you believe a fiduciary has abused his or her powers or has not carried out his or her duties, and this has resulted in harm or financial loss, you can have our estate litigation attorneys bring them before a judge of the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court where they will have to defend and explain their actions. If the judge believes the fiduciary has acted inappropriately, then the judge can remove and replace the fiduciary or even surcharge them so they have to pay back their own funds to right the wrong committed.

If you believe a fiduciary has committed a breach of fiduciary duty, the team of estate litigation attorneys assembled by Attorney Peter Klenk can help you analyze the case and bring your matter before the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced Philadelphia estate litigation attorneys.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty; Protecting the Fiduciary to Prevent Claims

Can an Estate Litigation Attorney Help Me Avoid a Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim?

If you are serving as a Philadelphia based fiduciary, such as an agent under a power of attorney, executor under a will or a trustee under a trust, you owe the beneficiary a level of duty and responsibility. Unfortunately, sometimes years later a child or other person interested in your service will bring claim that you breached your fiduciary duty. Sometimes these claims are baseless, sometimes they are based on 20/20 hindsight, and other times they are simply because the interested person wants clarification. While serving as a fiduciary you should prepare for these claims. If you do not, and if your information is incomplete years in the future, the court can fine you. This fine is called a surcharge.

If you are considering taking the job to serve as a Philadelphia based agent, executor or trustee, you may not be aware of all the responsibilities that come with that job. You may simply wish to help friend or family member, but you likely do not wish to become involved in costly litigation or be surcharged for accidentally making a mistake for which you are personally responsible. In most cases, within the terms of most powers of attorney, agents are allowed to hire a legal advisor to assist them in carrying out their duties. Trustees and executors are almost always afforded the ability to use estate or trust funds to retain a litigation attorney to advise them.

Our Philadelphia attorneys, with vast experience in trust and estate matters, can help advise you and help you avoid traps and pitfalls. If you are currently serving as an agent, executor or trustee, or if you are considering taking on that fiduciary responsibility, feel free to contact one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys to represent you. Contact us to set up a free consultation.

Who Pays the Fiduciary Attorney?

The agent’s attorney is paid out of the money controlled by the agent for the incapacitated person. The trustee’s attorney is paid by the trust. The executor’s attorney is paid from estate funds.
The beneficiary pays the beneficiary lawyer’s fee out of his or her own funds. If the fiduciary has failed in his or her duty, ajudge may order the fiduciary to pay the beneficiary’s lawyer’s fees.

What does the Agent’s, Trustee’s or Executor’s Attorney Do?

An agent’s lawyer, executor’s lawyer or trustee’s attorney works for the fiduciary. The agent’s lawyer answers questions relating to the power of attorney, the executor’s attorney answers questions surrounding the estate and the trustee’s attorney answers the trustee’s questions surrounding the trust.

Caveats:

Why File a Caveat?

Having your estate litigation attorney file a caveat with the Philadelphia Register of Wills is often the first strategic step in a Will Contest. Failing to file the caveat can give an advantage to the proponent of a will that you believe is an invalid product of undue influence, forgery or incapacity.

What Is a Caveat?

A caveat (Latin for “let him beware”) is a notice filed with the Philadelphia Register of Wills to prevent the proponent of that will from gaining official recognition as the executor. The person who files the caveat is known as a “caveator”.

Who would retain the Caveat Attorney?

A concerned beneficiary or other party to an estate may wish to stop a specific will from being filed with the Philadelphia Register of Wills. To prevent the filing of a will the beneficiary or interested party may have an attorney familiar with Philadelphia caveats, a “Caveat Attorney”, file the necessary petition. The result being that the person has the right to review the will filed and to object to the will prior to the person named in the questionable will being formally appointed and gaining control over estate assets. An experienced caveat attorney represents the beneficiary’s rights, advises the beneficiary about the procedures of filing the caveat and how to respond should an attempt be made to file a will. Attorney Peter Klenk and his team have decades of experience serving as Philadelphia Caveat Attorneys.

Why Do I Need A Caveat Lawyer?

A caveat proceeding with the Philadelphia Register of Wills is often the first step in a more complex proceeding, such as a Will Challenge in the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court. It is important that procedure is followed and no opportunities are missed. The penalty might be that control is given to the opposing party. A Caveat Attorney assists the caveator. The caveator is likely not experienced in trusts and estates litigation and the Caveat Lawyer can guide them through this unfamiliar territory. By retaining an experienced Philadelphia Caveat Lawyer, you will likely save a great deal of time, and money, because an experienced Caveat Attorney will already be familiar with the caveat procedures and rules.

What Can The Law Offices of Peter L. Klenk’s Attorneys Do for My Will Caveat Case?

Since opening his firm, Peter L. Klenk, Trusts and Estates Attorney, has done nothing but work in the area of caveats, Trusts and Estates. It is all we do!

As Caveat Attorneys, we regularly represent caveators in front of the Philadelphia Registers of Wills. We work with you to analyze your case and decide whether filing a caveat is right strategy for you. Very few lawyers are familiar with the practice of Philadelphia caveats, trust and estate law, and even less focus their entire litigation practice on the estate matters. Let our experienced estate litigation attorneys help you.

If you have a potential will caveat issue and need a Caveat Attorney or Lawyer familiar with the complex rules and procedures, Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference.

Co-Executor, Co-Administrator and Co-Trustee Disputes

Can Co-Executors of a Philadelphia Estate Have Separate Lawyers?

Can Co-Administrators of a Philadelphia Estate Have Different Attorneys?

Can Co-Trustees of a Philadelphia Trust Have Their Own Attorney?


Normally, Philadelphia co-executors, co-administrators or co-trustees share the same attorney. Circumstances can make that arrangement unacceptable, and each party must retain his or her own attorney.

For example, one co-fiduciary may feel that the single attorney they initially retained is favoring the other co-fiduciary when it comes to handling assets or interpreting the will or trust. Another common example is that the co-fiduciaries have found they cannot agree on a matter, which must be decided by the court, and the initial attorney is conflicted out or one party or the other simply wishes to have a more experienced trusts and estates trained attorney represent their position.

Whatever the reason, most Philadelphia wills and trusts allow each executor or trustee to retain his or her own attorney which is paid for from the estate or trust’s assets. Many co-fiduciaries find themselves bargaining with the other fiduciary and simply feel more comfortable having the advice of his or her own attorney.

If you are a Philadelphia co-executor, co-administrator or co-trustee and wish to have your own experienced Philadelphia trust and estates attorney, we can provide you with decades of experience. Our entire practice is focused on wills, trusts and estates matters including a long history of advising fiduciaries. Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys.

Fraudulent Transfers

What is a Fraudulent Transfer?

How Do Report a Fraudulent Transfer?


It is a sad but true reality that when persons are weakened by age, infirmity or mental health, others around them sometimes take advantage of this weakened state. Sadder yet, the people who most often abuse the trust of others are family members, friends and even attorneys or members of the person’s church.

Typical victims of fraudulent transfers are Philadelphia residents suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or mental disability. A fraudulent gift is made when such an individual transfers assets that he or she would otherwise not have transferred due to undue influence or a weakened state. Assets that are typically fraudulently transferred are deeds to real estate, bank accounts that are made joint with a right of survivorship or physical transfers of valuable jewelry or collections.

Often these transfers happen in the last months of the victim’s life and are not discovered until after the person has died.

Speed is essential in these cases. Joint accounts can be liquidated immediately after a person’s death, life insurance policies can be collected and real property quickly sold. It can prove difficult to recover assets once they are in the hands of the person who committed the fraudulent transfer.

Attorney Peter Klenk and his team of estate litigation attorneys and paralegals have experience pursuing fraudulent transfer claims and are familiar with the complex rules and procedures of the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court. We not only understand the estate procedures, but as experienced litigators, we understand the complex rules of discovery and obtaining orders necessary to secure and recover the assets obtained by fraudulent transfer.

If you believe there has been a fraudulent transfer and wish to have it investigated, or if you are considering a fraudulent transfer action in the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court, you need an attorney or lawyer familiar with the court’s complex rules and procedures.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced Philadelphia estate litigation attorneys.

Guardianship and Incapacitated Person Hearings

What is a Guardianship?

How do I Petition for Guardianship in Philadelphia?

Where Do I Petition for Guardianship Philadelphia?

What is a Guardian of the Estate?

What is a Guardian of the Person?

What Type of Guardian Does my Parent Need?


An incapacitated Philadelphia resident whose ability to care for his or her finances can easily become the victim of fraudulent transfers, phone fraud, or may no longer be able to oversee the agent of his or her power of attorney which could lead to misuse of power by the agent. Without help, the defenseless incapacitated person could be left penniless for the rest of his or her life. In these cases, a caring individual could have our Philadelphia litigation lawyers petition the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court to have a Guardian of the Estate appointed. A Guardian of the Estate would have the power, with court oversight, to control the incapacitated person’s assets, sheltering them from harm and applying them for the incapacitated person’s care.

If an incapacitated person is no longer able to care for even day-to-day matters, the friend or family member can have our litigation attorneys petition the court to have a Guardian of the Person appointed. A Guardian of the Person would have the right to control the day-to-day activities of the incapacitated person including placing them in a nursing facility or requiring that they obtain medical care.

The process of having a person declared incapacitated by the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court is complex and specific rules and procedures must be followed. Taking away a person’s ability to control their own money or to even decide where they live is a serious matter, and the judge will require that the proper procedures are followed and that the person who is the subject of the proceedings will have the right to have his or her own attorney to dispute the claims that a Guardian of the Estate or Guardian of the Person is needed.

If you are thinking about petitioning the to have a friend or family member declared incapacitated and have a Guardian of the Estate or Guardian of the Person appointed, our litigation attorneys are experienced in Philadelphia guardianship matters. Contact us for a free consultation, so we can walk you through this complex process.

If you feel that a petition for Guardianship has been wrongfully filed against you, contact one of our experienced Philadelphia litigation attorneys to represent you.

Powers of Attorney, Challenging

How do I Contest a Power of Attorney in Philadelphia?

Can I Force an Agent to Account in Philadelphia?

Can I Force a Power of Attorney to Account in Philadelphia?

What Can I do if a Power of Attorney is Stealing in Philadelphia?


Most estate plans include granting another person a power of attorney, which gives another person power to act for you. These powers of attorney can grant narrow powers, or broad powers, but either way they give the person you have trusted the ability to act for you. Often this includes gaining access to bank accounts and power of investing. Unfortunately, the person with this power (the “Agent”) sometimes abuses the power. Over the years I have witnessed embezzlement, self-dealing, and theft.

If you believe an Agent has abused the power given under a Philadelphia situs power of attorney, what can you do?

Force an Accounting: Interested parties to a power of attorney can retain an attorney experienced in estate litigation to petition the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court and obtain an order forcing the Agent to file a formal account of all actions the Agent has taken. If it is proven that the Agent abused the powers, the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court judge can surcharge the Agent, and make the Agent right any wrong that they may have committed.

Challenging the Power of Attorney: If you believe that a Philadelphia situs power of attorney was obtained improperly, perhaps through undue influence or by having a person execute the power of attorney while incapacitated, you can have our firm challenge the validity of that document in the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court.

Attorney Peter Klenk and his team have decades of experience pursuing Agents that have abused powers of attorney. We can explain the rules and procedures that surround these matters in a way that will make these complex matters easy to understand.

If you believe that an Agent under a power of attorney has committed fraud, embezzlement or has otherwise mishandled and abused the powers granted to the Agent, or if you believe a power of attorney was obtained improperly, you need an experienced estate litigation attorney to represent you.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys.

Powers of Attorney, Defending

As an Agent of a Philadelphia Power of Attorney, Can I Hire an Attorney?

How Can an Attorney Defend me as Agent of a Philadelphia Power of Attorney?


By accepting the job of Agent under a power of attorney, you have accepted a fiduciary position of responsibility. Any interested party can force you to account for all your actions in front of the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court and, if the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court judge finds that your decisions in any way harmed the person you were acting for, the judge can “surcharge” you from your own funds in order to right the perceived wrong.

Because you are personally liable, and because most Philadelphia powers of attorney allow you to obtain legal representation to advise you, you would be wise to retain on of our attorneys experienced in estate law. As your attorney, we would advise you as your attorney. If any interested party were to file petition to force you to account for your actions, we would help you be prepared and assist you in preparing and filing the formal account with the Philadelphia Orphan’s Court. We would also assist you in responding to any objections filed to your accounting.

If you are an Agent under a power of attorney, you need an experienced estate litigation attorney to represent you.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys.

Probate Litigation

How Do I Begin Probate in Philadelphia?

What Type of Lawyer Do I Need in a Philadelphia Probate Dispute?


Before the probate of a Philadelphia estate can begin, the Philadelphia Register of Wills must be given the appropriate materials to decide who is the correct person or persons to be named the executor or administrator. If a deceased had a will, then the person who is appointed is called the executor or personal representative. If the deceased had no will, then the Register is charged to select from the eligible persons an administrator to administer the estate.

Problems and conflicts can arise if it is unclear who should serve as executor. This can result from the will failing to appoint an executor, the appointed executor having predeceased the deceased or the named executor declining to serve because of illness or age.

If there is no will, then statute creates a pecking order of who should serve as administrator, but even with these rules at times there are several candidates with equal standing.

In both cases, an interested person or beneficiary may retain one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys to represent their interests. Over the decades, we have been successful in bringing the interested parties together and settling matters without a hearing. At times family disagreements run so deep that no settlement is possible. In these cases, we represent our client’s interests at the hearing and have experienced great success.

If you are a beneficiary of an estate with a dispute over who should serve as executor or administrator, you need one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys to represent you.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference. Wills, Trusts and Estates, its’ all we do!

Removing Actions to Replace Executors and Trustees

How Do I Remove a Philadelphia Trustee?

How Do I Remove aPhiladelphia Executor?

How Do I Petition to Replace a Philadelphia Executor?

How Do I Petition to Replace a Philadelphia Trustee?


Replacement Actions

If a beneficiary or other interested party believes that a Philadelphia trustee or executor has not fulfilled his duties or obligations, or has committed a Breach of Fiduciary Duty, he or she can have one of our experienced litigation attorneys file a removal petition in the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court.

Prior to the hearing, discovery is made and evidence is obtained to present to the judge. This discovery process may include depositions, interviews and interrogatories of the existing executor or trustee as well as financial advisors, beneficiaries, bankers or physicians. This evidence must be presented to the judge in an orderly fashion. An experienced attorney familiar with the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court and its procedures best handles this process.

Who Pays the Trusts and Estates Attorney in a Removal Action?

The beneficiary or other interested party pays the attorney, but if successful the judge may order this fee paid from the estate or trust. The executor or trustee may also hire an attorney. The estate pays this attorney, but if the executor or trustee is removed for bad acts a Philadelphia Orphans’ Court judge may order the fiduciary to repay this fee.

Why Do I Need a Trusts and Estates Attorney in a Replacement Action?

If you are seeking to remove a Philadelphia executor or trustee, or if you are a Philadelphia executor or trustee whose right to serve is being challenged, your case will be heard before the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court with unique procedures and rules. Your case must be organized in a specific manner, evidence presented in accordance the court’s rules and deadlines met. Your case is best served by having anattorney who is familiar and experienced with these Philadelphia procedures.

If you are a beneficiary seeking to remove the executor of an estate or the trustee of a trust, you need one of our experienced litigation attorneys to represent you.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys. Wills, Trusts and Estates, its’ all we do!

Spousal Election

What is a Spousal Right of Election?

Can I Disinherit My Wife in Philadelphia?

Can I Disinherit My Husband in Philadelphia?

How Do I Elect Against My Spouse’s Estate?


I am often asked, “What happens if a husband or wife’s will gives little or nothing to his or her spouse.” Or, sometimes I am asked, “Can I disinherit my spouse”. The short answer is that unless the surviving husband or wife waived their rights in a prenuptial agreement, by being married to the deceased they cannot be involuntarily disinherited. By law, they have an “elective share”.

It is important to know, though, that this elective share must be “elected” or else it is seen as waived. You must defend your rights. For example, if you are the surviving spouse of a Philadelphia resident, you can claim 1/3 of your spouse’s estate, but to secure this share you should have your Philadelphia estate lawyer file the proper election with the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court within 6 months of the later of the date of death or date of probate.

Before filing, though, you should weigh the pros and cons. There are events that might have disqualified you from claiming your share and by making the election you automatically disclaim all rights to certain assets you might have otherwise inherited. These rules can be difficult to understand.

If you are a surviving spouse of a Philadelphia resident who disinherited you, and you are considering making a spousal election, you need an experienced estate litigation attorney to represent you.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys.

Trust Reformations:

How Do I Reform A Philadelphia Trust?

Can I Change a Philadelphia Trust’s Terms?

Can a Philadelphia Trust be Changed?


Over a Philadelphia situs trust’s lifetime its terms might fail to fulfill its original purpose. This might be because of tax law changes or it might be because of changes in the way the world of finance operates. The trust might also contain mistakes that were not noticed before the trust was signed. When a trust fails to meet its goals or purpose, the trustee or the beneficiaries of the trust can have an experienced trust litigation attorney familiar with Philadelphia rules investigate the trust’s reformation. A trust reformation will mean that the actual terms of the irrevocable trust are changed.

Depending on the trust’s terms and other factors, reformation of a Philadelphia trust might be done without Philadelphia Orphans’ Court approval, or might require a petition to the court and possibly the approval of the IRS. The reformation of a trust requires a deep understanding of both federal and state tax laws, and the ability to work with the beneficiaries and the trustee. Acquiring these skills is neither quick nor easy.

If you are a trustee or beneficiary considering the reformation of a Philadelphia situs trust, contact one of our estate litigation attorneys for a free consultation. Put our decades of experience with trust reformations to work for you.

Will Contests and Will Challenges

What Is a Will Contest?

What Is a Will Challenge?

How do I file a Will Challenge in Philadelphia?


As will challenge attorneys, we regularly represent clients in defending and challenging the validity of wills and trusts in the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court. Typically, these disputes involve a challenge or contest against the validity of a will or trust as a result of many factors, including, but not limited to, undue influence, forgery, fraud and lack of testamentary capacity. Our years of experience focusing on these challenges allow us to explain these complex matters to you in a simple, direct fashion. We work with you to analyze the case’s strengths and weaknesses and to arrive at a stratagem that is in your best interest.

As your will Philadelphia contest attorney, we will argue your case in front of the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court with its own unique rules and procedures. Few lawyers have experience practicing in this court and even fewer are like us, focusing our litigation practice only on estate related matters. It is reasonable for you to wish to retain a lawyer already familiar with the court’s unique rules.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate challenge attorneys. Wills, Trusts and Estates, its all we do!

Will and Trust Construction

What Is a Will or Trust Construction Dispute?

How Do I Settle a Dispute Over a Philadelphia Trust’s Terms?

How Do I Settle a Dispute Over a Will’s Terms?


In estate litigation, some disputes are not over the validity of a will or trust, but instead are over the terms of the will or trust. Sometimes will terms are vague and unclear. This is especially true of holographic wills or other wills drafted by someone other than an experienced attorney trained in the complexities and subtleties of will and trust drafting in Philadelphia. When beneficiaries or other interested parties of a will or trust cannot agree on how to interpret the document’s terms, the dispute is heard by the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court. Such a dispute is said to be over the will or trusts’ “construction”.

Some of these disputes can be over which beneficiary is to receive a certain asset, and other will or trust construction disputes can be over something more esoteric, such as which bundle of assets is responsible for paying the Pennsylvania Inheritance Taxes due.

Attorney Peter Klenk and his team are not only experienced litigation attorneys in Philadelphia matters, but they also have decades of experience as estate planning attorneys. This means that they have combined experience that can not only understand the complexities and subtleties of interpreting the terms of wills and trusts, but they can then present these ideas in the court as seasoned litigators. Few attorneys have this combined experience.

If you are facing a will construction or trust construction dispute, contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced attorneys. Wills, Trusts, Estates and Related Litigation, Its’ All We Do!

Who needs a Will or Trust Construction Lawyer?
Philadelphia Fiduciaries: Prior to making a distribution of funds from a trust or under the terms of a will, the fiduciary responsible will want to make sure the correct beneficiary is receiving the funds. Any mistake could mean that the fiduciary has to correct the error out of his or her funds. A further example is payment of income, estate, or inheritance taxes. There might be several pools of funds in an estate or trust from which these taxes are paid and if these pools have different beneficiaries, any error could mean that the wrong pool was reduced. This could also cause a petition for Breach of Fiduciary Duty and a surcharge against the Philadelphia fiduciary. Prior to making distributions or making payments, the fiduciary should consult with an experienced lawyer in will construction for Philadelphia matters.

Philadelphia Beneficiaries: Beneficiaries of a will or trust may also wish to retain an attorney experienced with Philadelphia will or trust construction to help ensure that the trustee or executor is interpreting the Philadelphia will or trust correctly and to enforce the beneficiary’s rights. Beneficiary Rights and the ability of beneficiaries to have effective Beneficiary Representation in court have grown much stronger in recent history. Should the parties disagree over a will or trust construction, the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court has jurisdiction to hear the case. Each side to the dispute will be allowed to present evidence in support of their construction and the judge will rule on how the will or trust terms will be interpreted. All sides will be best served by having a lawyer experienced in the area of Philadelphia will and trust construction litigation so his or her opinion is clearly stated. Our will and trust construction lawyers have decades of litigation experience in Philadelphia matters.

Why Hire an Attorney Who Focuses Only on Estate Litigation Matters?

Disputes over will and trust construction are complex legal matters and few lawyers focus all their time on the specialized rules and procedures that surround this fascinating area of the law. These cases often involve an understanding of estate and tax law obtained only by years of experience. By retaining an attorney experienced in will and trust construction litigation, you will likely save a great deal of time and expense, because an estate litigation lawyer will already be familiar with the unique procedures and rules that surround a will or trust construction dispute. This specific knowledge is crucial.

What Can The Law Offices of Peter L. Klenk Do for My Case?

As estate litigation attorneys, we regularly represent clients in will and trust construction disputes in Philadelphia. We work with you to analyze your situation and interpret your specific and unique trust or will terms. We focus our practice exclusively in estate courts. We bill by the hour, not taking a percentage of your case. We work with you to analyze your case and decide what procedures and positions are best for you.If you need advice about a Philadelphia will or trust construction matter, or are considering filing a will or trust construction dispute, you need an attorney or lawyer familiar with the complex rules and procedures.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys.

Wrongful Death Claims

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Can A Philadelphia Estate Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

Who Can Bring a Philadelphia Estates’ Wrongful Death Claim?


When a Philadelphia resident’s death is the result of the wrongful act of another, the executor of the Philadelphia estate may bring an action on behalf of the estate for wrongful death. The case may result in nothing, but may also result in a settlement or a judgment in the estate’s favor. The proceeds are then often divided in part between those who were financially dependent on the deceased and in part to the estate to be distributed according to the deceased’s will. How these assets are divided can have serious tax ramifications and can determine which persons will get more, or less, of the proceeds. Disputes between the interested parties are common, which can lead to litigation and serious problems for the executor.

The executor or administrator of an estate is well advised to retain one of our experienced litigation attorneys to advise them through this process. Wills, trusts and estate matters are all we do! Therefore we have decades of experience in all aspects of estate administration, estate and inheritance taxes and estate related litigation in Philadelphia. This experience can help prevent the wrongful death proceeds from becoming a litigation matter between the heirs. Further, we can obtain for the executor a full release of liability. If later a beneficiary should decide the division of assets was incorrect this release will ensure that the executor is shielded from liability.

If you considering pursuing a wrongful death claim as an executor or administrator of a Philadelphia estate, you need an attorney or lawyer familiar with the complex rules and procedures of the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court.

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys.

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Estate Matters
The Klenk Law Blog



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