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Pennsylvania Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: If you are living with someone who passes away, can your belongings be taken by their family members?

I am 19 years old. I'm currently living with my 60 year old mother who has stage 4 cancer. I have a 45 year old brother but he is a drug addict and has not come around since the cancer. I'm pretty much my mothers live in maid. I have been trying to organize my mother's affairs for... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on May 20, 2020

They can't LEGALLY take your things, but whoever is appointed executor of your mother's estate will have the right and obligation to marshall (gather up and safeguard) her real and personal property. If you are appointed executor, then you are safe. If someone else is appointed... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: moms estate and common law marriage

in the state of Pennsylvania my step dad should be intitled to her estate they have been together for 25 years

state law common law before'05

state law states section code 1103

were just trying to see how to go about it without going to court . and the children giving... Read more »

John B. Whalen, Jr.
John B. Whalen, Jr. answered on May 19, 2020

... Hello ...

... You are correct in all of your statements ... However, I would consult an experience Probate and Estates attorney to review your options ...

... proving Common Law Marriage is very fact specific and establishing it is difficult - especially without going to court...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: with common law marriage and the estate for my mom do all children have to agree that the spouse gets a potion to

my sister and I agree he should . but my brother and younger sister do not. they prefer money over family

so if it comes to it should he get his own attorney?

our attoney my sister and I have didn't tell us about common law marriage. I did the digging and found it now Im... Read more »

Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko answered on May 19, 2020

All would have to agree or you and your sister would have to make gifts from your shares.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: my mom recently passed without a will. my step dad and her have been together for 25 years. can he get her estate to?

they walked down the aisle but the lience ran out. does common law stand for them. we have an attorney but he failed to tell us about common law marriage in Pennsylvania. we want him to be include my mom loved him dearly.

is there any information aside from section1103 im missing

thank you

Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko answered on May 19, 2020

In all probability, the most efficient way to do that would be to distribute the estate to the children and for the children to then gift to your mother’s partner whatever portion of the estate the children wish him to have. There will be a 4.5% inheritance tax on whatever passes to the... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Grantor exercised Power of Appointment giving daughter house. Can trustee-brother sell house and place back in trust?

Grantor still alive, Pennsylvania. All other assets divided evenly. Trustee-brother wants to sell, put back in trust so that he can take HALF of proceeds of house upon grantors death instead of daughter getting 100%. Commingling?

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Apr 26, 2020

It is not possible to answer your question without reviewing all of the relevant documents and verifying that the grantor had capacity at the time and had not Ben subjected to undue influence, but if all of that is true then no, brother cannot change grantor’s desired disposition.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: Can a beneficiary request a copy of the family trust from the lawyer while the grantor is still alive? In Pennsylvania?
Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Apr 23, 2020

like so many legal questions "it depends". The questions are what type of trust is it (revocable or irrevocable), is the beneficiary a lifetime beneficiary, and is the beneficiary a vested beneficiary or a contingent beneficiary. You will have to start with the family lawyer and if he... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: What are my right's after my mom's death do I have since I lived with her to settle the estate and have to move out

I lost my job because of taking care of her my siblings left me to make all the decisions for her care now they want their inhierentence it's only been a month

Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko answered on Apr 14, 2020

If there was a Will, the Will controls. If there is no Will, you and your siblings have equal authority and equal responsibilities. You also get equal inheritances. However, you have the right to claim a “family exemption” right off the top because you lived with her. As I recall, that is... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Is there a time limit on probating a will?

My sons grandfather passed in 2015 and left his home to my son in his will. We've been living here since before he passed with him and continued to live here after. Two guys came walking into my house through the front door last week with the keys to the lock claiming they bought it in a... Read more »

Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko answered on Apr 14, 2020

Since I just answered your last question and you are now asking if there is a time limit on probating a Will, I will try to read between the lines and fill in the missing pieces.

It sounds like, when grandfather died, you never probated the Will and thus never got a deed from the estate,...
Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: Does my mother need to specify beneficiaries on her accounts or is the Will sufficient to settle the estate?

My mother has no beneficiaries on her financial accounts. The Will states that she bequeaths $10,000 to each of her grandchildren. There are 4 (four) grandchildren; the remainder divided equally among her 3 (three) children. Therefore, very difficult to specify beneficiaries. The Will states that I... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Apr 12, 2020

it is difficult to answer a specific question like this without knowing all the facts, but in general if there are no beneficiaries on the accounts they will go into the estate and the will controls the distribution. you have a number of ideas including trusts for minors which suggest your family... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: What happens once the funds in an estate are not enough to cover the inheritance tax on the realestate?

The house is co-owned by his girlfriend of 20 years and she was named the owner in the will and on the deed. I did not inherit the realestate. I am his son and the executor of his estate. I keep getting conflicting information on what is supposed to happen and I'm getting very confused.... Read more »

Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko answered on Mar 29, 2020

First of all, if you have not already done so, you need to consult a lawyer to represent the estate.

Inheritance taxes are obligations of the inheritor, not of the estate. Most often, however, a testator writes a Will that shifts that tax burden to the estate. Thus, the first question is...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: My wife is not on the deed to our home. Do I need to record a quit claim before a Revocable Living Trust ?

We would be the only trustees on the trust.

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Mar 19, 2020

there are a number of open questions here. Is there a mortgage on the home? Is the Living Trust in your name only or is it a joint living trust? also, a caution. the PA Department of Revenue is reading Living Trusts very closely and taking a very narrow view of what qualifies as Living Trust... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My mother died with no will. My stepsister and my aunt forged my mother's death certificate and took all of her money

My stepsister forged my mothers death certificate by saying she is my deceased mothers child, but in fact she is not related to my mother at all. The funeral director knowingly lied also, as he had conducted my step sisters mothers funeral a few years before my mother died. I was out of state... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Mar 15, 2020

All of the acts you describe are wrongful, and the law does supply remedies for such wrongful acts, but you are going to find it very difficult to pursue your remedies on your own. Start by scheduling an appointment with a probate litigation attorney in the vicinity of where you mother had lived.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My mom just passed away. It's only me & my oldest sister left but she refuses to be in contact with me to discuss

Anything with me regarding my moms arrangements or her personal belongings. What can I do to force her to give me my half of my moms belongings and deal with her final arrangements?

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Mar 12, 2020

Very difficult to give you a complete answer with so little information. In general, if your sister fails to be in contact with you you can file a Petition with the Register of Wills (you are probably Lebanon County) to be appointed Administrator of your mom's Estate. Since your sister is... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: If money from deceased’s account goes to the state, how long does it take before a family member can request it?

My aunt passed and as her POA I wanted to take care of her bills and get a grave marker but found out that my “duties” ended at death and I could no longer access her account. She has $1700 between her bank account and the money that will be returned from the nursing home. Her husband and... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Feb 28, 2020

You are going to have to meet with an attorney experienced on estate administration to help you figure out this one. the summary above raises a lot of questions. If there are grandchildren alive they are first in line to become the Administrator of the Estate. If the funeral bill needs to be... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: The settlor of trust ABC transfers property P into ABC. P carries a standard lien to its mortgagee, a local bank. OK?

Is the answer the same if mortgagee is a private company or individual? Is the interest that will be paid by the Trust tax deductible against its rental income from the property?

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Feb 8, 2020

It is not possible to answer this question without reviewing the mortgage instrument. Take it to a real estate attorney for review along with a copy of the trust instrument.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Tax Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: My mother died in PA with no assets in PA. Her estate is in a trust in Virginia. Does PA inheritance tax apply?

(i) Her permanent address was in PA for the last three years. (ii) Assets were bank account, stocks, and bonds. No real estate. (iii) Revocable trust domiciled in Virginia.

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on Jan 29, 2020

This question has too many unknowns at this point to answer in this short space. The three biggest questions are: (i) in what state was mom domiciled (her intended permanent residence) at the time of her death (just because she died in PA does not necessarily mean she was a resident here); and... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My fathers house is in his will, he has had a stroke and may have to sell his house. What does that mean for the will?
Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko answered on Jan 29, 2020

A lawyer would have to review the Will. Generally, if the bequest is specifically limited to the house, since the house would no longer be part of the estate, the bequest becomes meaningless. If, however, the bequest is meant to include the proceeds of sale (which would be unusual), the recipient... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: The estate attorney I chose is doing little to move forward with settling the estate, its almost two years and <$75,000.

He has cash in escrow, debtors to pay and a property to sell or settle with beneficiaries.

Mark Scoblionko
Mark Scoblionko answered on Jan 24, 2020

I am not sure what your question is. If you are dissatisfied, you can make an appointment with another lawyer for a second opinion.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Pennsylvania on
Q: We live in Pa. My ex husband passed away. He had me named as his beneficiary on his life insurance policy.

he never changed the beneficiary. Am I still the beneficiary?

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Jan 21, 2020

This is actually not a simple question. You should take this information together with a copy of your divorce decree to an experienced probate attorney in your area. The life insurance company might very well pay the policy proceeds to you, but depending on how the divorce decree is worded,... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Elder Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: Was my dad's Income Only Medicaid Asset Protection Trust a good idea? Need to use trust income to pay for elder care.

About 6 years ago, my dad went into an assisted living facility and, AT THAT TIME, a lawyer put most of his assets in an Irrevocable Income-Only Medicaid asset protection trust. At the time, costs were reasonable ($3500/month) and he had a good Long Term Care policy. My dad went through with this... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Jan 4, 2020

Except in California (where the lookback period is only 2.5 years), the Medicaid lookback period is 5 years. That means Medicaid pre-planning must be done at least 5 years in advance of the need for long-term care. When it comes to Medicaid pre-planning, an accurate crystal ball is extremely... Read more »

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