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Pennsylvania Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: Hello, my mother has a 401 k with Fidelity. She passed away without a will and I need some kind of small estate

document in order to collect funds but I don't know exactly what I need. My mom did not own a home or have any assets can someone give me a clear answer on what I need to do and please talk in layman's terms so I can understand please.

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka
answered on Oct 31, 2022

Since your mother had a 401k plan, she should have designated you as beneficiary (or one of several beneficiaries) to receive the account. If she did not designate at least one beneficiary, then your mother died Intestate (without a will) and Fidelity is describing a Small Estates Petition in... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Hello I'm trying to collect funds from my mom estate but I need some kind of estate document and I'm not sure what I nee

I don't know the document I need

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
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W. J. Winterstein Jr.
answered on Oct 26, 2022

You haven't provided all the necessary information, e.g., where is the probate proceeding in your mom's case, and are you the named and acting Executor under the will, and has the will been accepted/admitted into probate?

If you are the named Executor, you can procure Letters...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: My daughter got married a few days ago. She asked me to sign my will and trust before

the wedding. But the lawyer won't let me do. He scheduled about week after her wedding. I am still not signed yet.

I worry what make a difference. I her parter has a will and already signed or his own money.

I would like to know what makes difference.

Thank you

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
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W. J. Winterstein Jr.
answered on Oct 20, 2022

There is a concept in marital law about "separate property of each spouse, meaning property acquired by each prior to the marriage, or by will or gift after the marriage.

A will transfers no property until the death of the testator, and until then, can always be changed so long as the...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Family Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: My grandfather left his house to me in his will ,so after the reading of the will can I change the locks on the house
Stephen M. Asbel
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Stephen M. Asbel
answered on Sep 28, 2022

The short answer is no. The house must pass through the estate administration. The executor must first ensure that your grandfather's debts, if any are addressed, that the administrative expenses of the estate are paid, and the required inheritance tax and any other tax obligations that may... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: What happens if 2 siblings who inherit a parent's home, cannot agree on what happens to the house during probate?

Here are the details. Sister and I inherited house from father (no mortgage or liens), no will, we started probate, we payed the inheritance tax, we got a new deed created with both our names on it, and we agreed that we both were going to continue living in the house for the next year or 2, but we... Read more »

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
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W. J. Winterstein Jr.
answered on Sep 22, 2022

If that "new deed" to both of you has been executed and recorded, then the property is no longer part of the probate estate.

If the two of you are unable to come to some agreement about what to do with the property, either one of you can file a partition action in court, that...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Tax Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: In PA how much is the tax rate if there was no beneficiary on a IRA and it goes to an estate then passes to adult child

My Dad never updated his will but he left everything to his girlfriend and she said she is going to distribute everything between her and the 3 children evenly. Wondering about taxes and if I should get an attorney to make sure it’s done fairly. 350k+ in assets and investments mostly... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka
answered on Aug 14, 2022

Not sure how to read your question, but if you mean by "never updated his will" that your dad DID have a will and his girlfriend received everything under the will, then you will definitely want to meet with a PA estate attorney. if the will is probated and the girlfriend does not file... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: If my sister and I inherited our father's house, how should I go about having a new deed created?

We Plan on living in the house for at least the next 2 years. The recorder of deeds aid that we need to get a new deed created and that any title company can do it. About how much does this whole process cost? I know there is an $83 recording fee. And what is required or needed to create a new... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka
answered on Aug 11, 2022

You indicate that you inherited the house. How you inherited it will determine if the process is simple or a bit more complicated. If your father's Deed was joint deed with you and your sister (Joint with Right of Survivorship) it may be as simple as filing a PA Inheritance Tax Return to pay... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: If I am listed on a relative’s bank account and I and that relative are PA residents, if I die what happens?
W. J. Winterstein Jr.
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W. J. Winterstein Jr.
answered on Aug 5, 2022

If by "listed" you mean that you have signed a Signature Card with the bank, then you currently have the power to write checks/make withdrawals.

However, if you are listed as a "joint, with right of survivorship", and you pass before the other on the account, your...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Who recieves money left in a checking account?

Father-In-Law passed away in December, there is only his wife (my mother-in law) and my wife (his daughter) surviving him. My Wife is the executor. There's no mention to where it goes in will. Only thing the will says is that the house is left to his wife (my mother in law) and that his... Read more »

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
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W. J. Winterstein Jr.
answered on Aug 4, 2022

Under PA law, the appointed executor's duty is to implement the expressed intent of the testator, as expressed in the probated Will.

If an asset of the testator is not disposed or bequeathed by that Will, it is for the Court, not the Executor, to determine the testator's...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: How do I get information on the deed to my deceased father’s house.

My stepmother had a life estate for my father’s house , with my sister, stepsister and myself being the remaindermen. Whereas that arrangement is specified on his will, I’m not sure if it is reflected on the deed. I called the county clerk but she said she could not give me the info. How can I... Read more »

Anthony M. Avery
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Anthony M. Avery
answered on Jul 26, 2022

Hire a PA attorney to search the Title and tell you the status. Real Property can be conveyed by a Probated Will, in addition to Deeds, Court Orders, Heirship, Tax Sales and Adverse Possession.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: How do we go about selling a house as remaindermen from a life estate.

My stepmother recently passed away. My father had granted her a life estate for his house, with the remainder interest to be divided between my sister, myself, and my stepmother's daughter. What is the process that we now need to go through to sell the house and divide the proceeds. The lawyer... Read more »

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
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W. J. Winterstein Jr.
answered on Jul 25, 2022

You and your co-heirs need to know what the County record/Registrar of Deeds shows where the real estate is situated. If that record shows the grant from your father to step-mother, remainder to you and heirs, it is probably sufficient to file/record a Certificate of Death of your step-mom.... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: Who can help me with a Power of Attorney and what does it cost?
Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
answered on Jul 23, 2022

A Pennsylvania attorney could advise best, but your question remains open for three weeks. It's difficult for attorneys here to offer their services to you to fulfill your request. This forum isn't set up like an attorney referral service. The format here is basically Q & A. One... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: Is common law marriage still able to apply when a couple has been together for more than 30 years and one of them dies?

The "wife" died and house was in both names. Would common law marriage be able to apply in this circumstance when there is no will that everything would go to the "husband". My research on internet looks like yes it can as long as they were together before 2005. The lawyer... Read more »

Stephen M. Asbel
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Stephen M. Asbel
answered on Jun 17, 2022

Pennsylvania law says: "No common-law marriage contracted after January 1, 2005, shall be valid." If the couple were together since before 2005, there MAY be a common law marriage. However, validity of a common law marriage requires more than just living together for a certain period of... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: I have incurable cancer. Would it make sense to transfer all assets with my name on it to my wife?
Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka
answered on Jun 14, 2022

First of all sorry to hear of your diagnosis. Second, you should not make any hasty decisions right now. There are many considerations involved in the transfer of your assets or designations of beneficiaries, and you should gather your information and meet with an experienced estate planning... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Collections and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My father recently passed, resided in PA and had no assets and or no estate He did have over $30,000 of sole-owed debt.

Funeral expenses will be paid by family members. He had less than $250 in the bank, and once Social Security re-claims the pro-rated portion of his monthly benefit paid at the beginning of the month, there will be insufficient funds. There is no life insurance, property, vehicle, etc. Can the... Read more »

Stephen M. Asbel
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Stephen M. Asbel
answered on Jun 2, 2022

As a practical matter, if the credit card issuers are notified by letter that your father is deceased, there are no assets available to pay their bills and the family is not raising an estate administration, the likely result will be they will write off the balance. To the extent there is any... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: In PA, if my sister and I live with my father and he passes away, can we keep living in the house?

Both my sister and I are over 18 oh, and my father passed away. We both have been living in the house helping take care of him. He told us that both my sister and I would be getting 50% of the house. We have not been able to locate a Will anywhere, and I know we are supposed to pay inheritance tax... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka
answered on May 24, 2022

There are too many unanswered questions right now to give you a specific answer in this type of forum, but you are fortunate that there are no mortgages or liens on the house. You should meet with an experienced estates attorney to assist you in opening an estate administration (since there is no... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Tax Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: If there is unclaimed death benefits from my grandparents who died 28 years ago is it hard to claim

I am the only child of their only child and they have no siblings left alive. My father who was their only child died 20 years ago. They had no will.

Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko
answered on May 19, 2022

Your question is not specific enough to answer. What are “death benefits?” Is this life insurance, real estate, etc.?

As a general proposition, a portion of estate assets would ordinarily go from one grandparent to the other and a portion would have gone to your dad, unless your...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: What is the best way to have a great aunt give us her home and car in the event she passes away in Pennsylvania?

The great aunt has a will and the executor is her niece. Does she need to include this in her will? should we do a deed transfer now so we avoid the most taxes? what is the best route to avoid the 15% inheritance tax?

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka
answered on May 19, 2022

If your great aunt wishes to continue owning the home and car until she dies then she would need to revise her Will to include both of these assets as specific bequests to you.

Your great aunt can gift the house and car to you now if she is comfortable with transferring title to you. As...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: When a married couple in PA has separate wills and the man dies, do all joint accts automatically belong to the wife?

Does this make the estate bankrupt and is the wife then liable to pay outstanding bills?

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka
answered on May 3, 2022

Although all joint accounts pass to the surviving wife by law, and avoid probate, and therefore are not included in the probate estate which would be available for husband's creditors, the question as to whether the surviving wife could be liable to pay deceased husband's creditors... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: Can a financial power of attorney remove assets from an estate without compensation?

My parents helped my sibling(1) buy a house and also provided money to make improvements - new roof, bathroom(s) remodeled, etc. Now both my parents are incapacitated. My other sibling(2) has power of attorney over both of them, and used the power to re-title the property in sibling(1) name only,... Read more »

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
PREMIUM
W. J. Winterstein Jr.
answered on Apr 27, 2022

In PA, the designated "attorney-in-fact" must always act to promote the best interests, especially financial, of the grantor(s) under the Power of Attorney.

Upon the scant facts you provide, there seems to be no financial benefit to your parents by forfeiting their long-held...
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