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Pennsylvania Probate Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My mother died on August 1, 2021. in mid-July 2021, she asked me to take her money from her safe deposit box and

give it equally to all her grandchildren. But her Will says that her sons should get that money. Do her grandchildren get the money or her sons? Now my brother is taking this to probate. Can he actually get money that was withdrawn from the safe deposit box BEFORE our mother’s death – at her... Read more »

John B. Whalen, Jr.
John B. Whalen, Jr. answered on Nov 12, 2021

... hello ...

... there are a few issues here ... were you Power of Attorney over your mother? ... why did you have to give the money to her grandchildren? ... how much was given? ...

... the money may or may not be able to be pulled back, but it will be taxed on her Inheritance Tax...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My grandfather passed away and for years I’ve been living with him taking care of him. My uncle had lost the will.

I’ve been saving for 3 few months but it’s not easy when I pay all the bills, the house is paid off so there is no rent just condo fees. My uncle just sent me a letter giving me 30 days to leave or his team will take action to remove me. I’m not sure what to do or if I have any rights.

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Oct 14, 2021

"lost the will" doesn't cut it. See if an estate has been opened. The uncle can't just act regardless. You need to file a claim as a potential heir with the register of wills for whichever county you are in. You'd want to check to see if an estate has been opened. If it was... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: When I pass and leave house to my adult child can I put in will that my sig other can stay in house indefinitely?

My child lives elsewhere and my significant other has children

Anthony M. Avery
Anthony M. Avery answered on Oct 14, 2021

Hire a competent PA attorney to advise and draft a Deed. A simple Joint Life Estates/Remainder Deed might be appropriate here. Or a very good lawyer could specify Executory Interests, Conditions or even a Reverter, granting and habendum clauses. Remember the executed Deed takes effect now, not... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: If I die and leave my house to my child, can I stipulate in my will that my boyfrnd lives there indefiniteltly

With his children

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr. answered on Oct 12, 2021

Yes, you can make those arrangements by specific provisions in your will. One way is to give what is called a life estate in the property, which gives your boyfriend control of the property until his death, or until he no longer wants it.

There are other ways, using testamentary trusts,...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My aunt got my sickly 88yr old grandmother to give her everything in the Will a few months after grandfather died.

Everything done in secret. I would have inherited half the property since my mother died in 1984. I did not contest because the clerk at register of wills gave me wrong info and I did not have the money. This was also done in 2013. Can I still contest?

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Sep 17, 2021

No , the statute of limitations is long gone. For what it's worth, will contests are very difficult and had you filed back then you might not have won.

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My brother died without a will. I am personally responsible for debts?

My divorced brother with 2 minor children lives in PA. My sister and I live in NJ. If we co administer the estate, will we be held responsible for his income tax if there isn't anything to pay with from the estate? He owned nothing and in the past had owed thousands in back taxes. Can... Read more »

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Sep 17, 2021

No, you don't have personal responsibilities for an estate's debts. You should make no agreement to pay any debt. If anyone claims you are responsible get all their information, write down what they said as exactly as possible, the date and time. Then just tell them "thank you, I... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Both of my parent's recently died within 13 months of each other. They did not leave a Will.

Prior to their deaths, my youngest sister (among 5) took over handling all of their finances, at the request of my Mother, and became their power of attorney ("POA"), which I'm not sure was ever made official.

Following my Mother's most recent death, my sister ~ the... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Sep 3, 2021

It sounds like a probate was opened by your sister. Probate is a kind of court case and the records are public. You can go to the courthouse nearest where your mother died and ask to look at the file. You will probably find answers in the file. If you do not understand what you are seeing, you... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: My Mother did not leave a will. 3 surviving kids, 2 deceased. Are the kids of the 2 deceased entitled to her estate.

I know the 3 surviving children of my Mother's split her estate. Does that include the 2 deceased son's as well? Do their children get a piece of my Mother's estate without a will?

Stephen M. Asbel
Stephen M. Asbel answered on Aug 2, 2021

Under Pennsylvania law when there is no will, assuming that your mother was not married at the time of her death, the estate would be divided into equal shares - one share for each living child and one share for each deceased child who has living children or descendants. Each living child would... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: If it would cost me more to probate a will than I would actually get, am I required to do so? What are the implications?

My mother passed away last year, and we didn’t have any issues with inheritance, except for a 1099 showing dividends from an employee stock plan. The account is very small, so it would be more expensive to probate it then it’s actually worth. We’d like to simply ignore it, but we know we’ll... Read more »

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Jul 8, 2021

No but before you decide not to did you look under unclaimed money on the Treasurer's website? Look under both her married and maiden names.

https://www.patreasury.gov/unclaimed-property/

Also if she had a car you want to pass title to, a house you would need to open a simple...
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 »

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Dad passed in 2/18. The executors took their share of monies but will not disperse mine until I sign off on house.

Four of us inherited, one of the executors gets a life estate and 40% share of assets and the remaining three get a 20% share of the estate. My siblings took their share of the money last May but the executors will not release my check until I sign off on my acceptance of 20% share of the home... Read more »

Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka answered on May 3, 2021

It sounds like your executors are attempting to settle the estate with a Family Settlement Agreement which is the most common way to settle a small estate. If you are not in agreement with the proposed settlement you, as a beneficiary, have a right to request a formal accounting of the estate.... 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 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 »

2 Answers | Asked in Tax Law and Probate for Pennsylvania on
Q: Pa inheritance tax method? Mom died. the 100 acre farm(Pa) in clean and green will be sold outside of family.

One person said to use C & G assessment value instead of fair market value to compute inheritance tax. True?

W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr. answered on Apr 8, 2021

PA inheritance tax on bequests to child/children is five percent. When that is paid, the property enjoys a "stepped up basis", so that on a subsequent sale of the property, any capital gain is computed as the difference between the stepped up basis and the sale price, both for PA and... Read more »

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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 »

2 Answers | Asked in Probate and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: I want to buy land of someone who is deceased through a probate lawyer.

The executrix had the house demolished and is selling the property through a probate lawyer. What do I need to do to start the process, what documentation is involved, is this handled through the court? I made a verbal offer which was accepted but that’s all so far.

Elizabeth Tarasi
Elizabeth Tarasi answered on Mar 27, 2021

You need to make an offer in writing. The estate will accept the offer in writing. It is a good idea to retain an attorney to assist you with the closing on the property. It is a good idea to get title insurance.

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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 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 »

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