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Pennsylvania Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: I am a senior citizen with no immediate family in the area & want to get a will, beneficiary, living trust for property

Since I have no family and on a limited income; I want to make my best friend my beneficiary & once everything is liquidated; she will delegate certain amounts to charities & people that I want to leave a little something to. Also, can I have a backup beneficiary since we're always... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Jun 7, 2021

You are on the right path, and the things you are wanting to do are do-able. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you see this through. Most likely you are going to want to create a revocable trust with a will just in case. I would also recommend a general durable power of attorney... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Can a Trustee refuse to make a distribution to a beneficiary of a discretionary trust and

then ignore said beneficiary requests for an explanation?

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr. answered on May 22, 2021

The powers of any Trustee are prescribed first by the wording of the Trust document itself, augmented by the powers specified in the PA statutes.

To answer your question correctly, a lawyer would need to examine the wording of Trust document.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: What are the determining factors as to whether or not a trustee has actually acted in the beneficiary best interest?

Are there any rules governing what a Trustee must do to ensure they know what IS & IS NOT in the beneficiaries best interest and act accordingly?

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on May 20, 2021

Entire books have been written on this subject, and this has been the subject of numerous lawsuits across the country. There is no simple one-size-fits-all answer, I am sorry to say. If you have a particular action in mind and would like legal advice regarding that, you should consult with an... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Foreclosure for Pennsylvania on
Q: I was in a bad relationship and had to leave my home. I own the house in Dallas Texas and live in Somerset PA.

How can I sell the house I was forced to leave in Dallas, Texas and /or get my x, who is still living in the house, to sign a rental contract so I am not forced to pay the mortgage for the house? He claims there is already a tenant / landlord contract signed. I don't remember signing one.... Read more »

Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko answered on May 10, 2021

Although you need to speak with a Texas lawyer, as a general proposition, if you are the sole person on the deed, you have the right to sell it. However, if there is, in fact, a written lease, any sale would have to honor the terms of that lease. Therefore, as a practical matter, you better find... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: My dad died years ago with no will, everything went to step mom. My step mom just passed away about 6 months ago and

Left everything to her daughter in will. Do I have anything to fight for if the house was still in both step mom and my fathers name on deed?

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr. answered on May 9, 2021

If the deed was held in your father and step-mom's names as joint tenants, with right of survivorship, or tenancy by entirety, then when he died, yes, "everything", including full legal title to the property, went to her.

If the deed says they held title as tenants in common,...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: I am redoing my will. I am divorced, but I would like to make my former wife the primary beneficiary of my estate.
Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on May 4, 2021

From the point of view of your Will, you can leave your Estate to anyone you choose, and in this case you would just no longer reference your primary beneficiary as "my wife".

From a Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax point of view, this is a major change since the tax rate for bequests...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: What can a lawyer do?

My sister-in-law is executor of mother's will. She has not paid inheritance taxes since mother’s death in 02/2017. She will not even have conversation about will. I have been told that my wife, who is sister and co beneficiary in mother’s will, should get a lawyer to help with this issue.... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Apr 26, 2021

First of all are you sure there is a Will? If your sister-in-law claims there is a Will, and that she is named Executor, and if she has done nothing to date your wife has some options, and she needs to meet with an experienced estate attorney to see what option is best. If you think there is a... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: I have been petitioned to waive bond of personal representative. What is this?

The estate is located in Florida

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Apr 25, 2021

A bond is an undertaking by a surety to indemnify the estate for losses caused by the bonded person (personal representative) stealing from the estate. Sadly, that does sometimes happen. If you totally trust the personal representative then you would normally agree to waive the bond. If you don’t... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: I'm inheriting a vacation home. Should I receive a copy of my dad's will, and from whom, or do I pay for that?

My dad passed Nov 2020 and the bulk of the estate goes to my dad's 2nd wife. I'm listed to receive the vacation home. I haven't read nor have received a copy of my Dad's will, the lawyer just read only the portion pertaining to me. Step mom is executor and hasn't offered a... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Apr 12, 2021

As far as a copy of the Will, the executor is required to send you a notice that you are a beneficiary of the Will, and describe your bequest. Most executors provide a copy of the Will, but unfortunately that is not required and your executor has chosen not to send a copy. Her attorney is correct... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: If house is left to 3 siblings , do all siblings have to sign for the sale of the house ?

My understanding of Will is I own 1/3 . Will siblings need my signature to sell house ?

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr. answered on Apr 2, 2021

The simple answer is- yes. Your siblings cannot sell/transfer your interest in the real estate if you are a record owner of it. However, if the property is held in a pending probate case, the executor/administrator may have a power to sell the property, subject to notice to all heirs at law and... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Probate and Small Claims for Pennsylvania on
Q: My father passed away in early January. We live in Pennsylvania and he passed away without a will.

He was living with his girlfriend at her house at the time of his passing. He has a fairly large gun collection of about sixty or so firearms including some handguns. My brother is the named executor of the estate that he had to file to open. My father's girlfriend is refusing allowing us in... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Mar 24, 2021

First of all since your brother is named Executor he has the responsibility and the authority to collect and protect all personal property of your father. Since you call your brother the Executor I am assuming there is a Will and the girlfriend is either not named in the Will or was not bequeathed... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My grandfather just passed on. In his will he said his monies were to be split between his 3 daughters. There is an

Investment worth around a hundred thousand or so. At the reading of the will the sister who was P.O.A and also executor of his will jumped up and said "I am the beneficiary of that" the lawyer tried to explain that Pap wanted the money split 3 ways but she kept saying, I am the... Read more »

John B. Whalen, Jr.
John B. Whalen, Jr. answered on Mar 15, 2021

... hello ...

... yes she can ... although your father may have wanted it split, a beneficiary designation overrides the Will ...

... good luck ...

... John ...

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: Can a PA Estate Lawyer charge 6% on the inheritance taxes that we pay
Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Mar 8, 2021

In Pennsylvania the estate attorney's fee is negotiated with the executor of the estate. There are court cases with guidelines as to calculation of the fees. I have never heard the fees being calculated as a percentage of the inheritance taxes paid by the estate.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Sister-in-law (executor) has not paid inheritance taxes after mothers death in 2017, what can I do to protect my wife?

My mother-in-law died Feb. 2017. Sister-in-law took will to courthouse Feb. 2018. Will was drawn up in Ohio, and does not meet PA standards, she needs notarized statements to authenticate mother’s signature. After 3 year she has done nothing. Court has no records that inheritance taxes have... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Mar 7, 2021

if your sister-in-law "took the Will to the courthouse" I will assume that your sister-in-law is the named executor. if that is the case neither you nor you wife can do anything other than (i) demand that she hire an estate attorney and finish the estate administration (including payment... Read more »

5 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law, Probate and Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: My father in law died in Oct. He owned a home had a life insurance policy and a union pension. No will help?

My father in law died in Oct. He owned a home had a life insurance policy and a union pension. He had no will in PA. We are having trouble getting information about the policy, deed for the home, actually ever thing we try is an issue we only have a death certificate. Need probate I believe but not... Read more »

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr. answered on Feb 5, 2021

Where there is no will, the PA statutes explain, in detail, who will be the "heirs at law" who inherit a decedent's property.

Whenever real estate is involved, unless it is held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and the co-owner survives, a probate is necessary to...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Can a Credit Union drain account to pay for credit card immediately after death?

I am a joint owner on my mothers checking account. After her death the credit union automatically transferred all of the money from the checking account to pay off her credit card (also from credit union). I now have no way to pay for her funeral. I was under the assumption that creditors would... Read more »

Steven J. Fromm
Steven J. Fromm answered on Jan 31, 2021

Please see my answer on your January 6, 2021 posted question which is the same as this question.

2 Answers | Asked in Civil Litigation, Probate and Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: My dad died Aug 17th 2019 and I just found out that my dad left me monies but I think my brother and sister stole what

What was left for me can I get it back or is it too late to do anything

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Jan 25, 2021

You will really need to sit down with an experienced estate attorney to review what has happened so far. Since dad died in 2019, you should have been formally notified whether an Estate was going to be opened. If dad had a Will you would receive Notice that an Estate was opened and you were a... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: Can a Credit Union drain account to pay for credit card immediately after death?

I am joint owner of the bank account and will be the estate executor and now have no money to pay for funeral.

Edit: The Joint checking account and credit card are both with the credit union. I am not a cosigner on credit card. My mother passed away last week and upon notification of her... Read more »

John B. Whalen, Jr.
John B. Whalen, Jr. answered on Jan 6, 2021

... hello ...

... could you kindly elaborate on your concern? ... I am not quite sure what you are asking ...

... John

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My father is in the hospital and not expected to survive. Someone is living on his property and I'll need them to leave.

My father is unresponsive and deteriorating. This was unexpected and he doesn't have a will. My parents are divorced and I am the oldest of his 2 adult children. He owns a trailer in a mobile home park and a former girlfriend is living there. My father was living there originally but got an... Read more »

Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko answered on Dec 29, 2020

You will have to hire a lawyer and open an estate. Either all of the siblings must serve as co-administrators or the other siblings can sign a renunciation form so that you can serve as the sole administratrix.

If the lot is rented to your father, even though she pays the rent, once the...
Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My brother passed away no kids or wife. No will that we can find. There are four remaining siblings, who becomes the

executor of his estate or how can I become the executor.?

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr. answered on Dec 17, 2020

In intestate (no will) cases, an Administrator, or Personal Representative, not an Executor, or Executrix, is appointed,

But each serves the same fiduciary function, to gather up and maximize the value of the estate for the benefit of the legal heirs.

The PA statutes designate the...
Read more »

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