Probate is the formal procedure by which an Executor or Administrator is appointed to oversee the administration of a Decedent’s Estate. The process is usually initiated at the Register of Wills Office located in the County where the Decedent resided by petitioning the Register for either Letters Testamentary (if there is a Will) or Letters of Administration (if there is no Will).
While the process of administering a Decedent’s Estate is conceptually a simple matter, i.e. the Decedent’s assets are marshaled and collected, his or her debts and death taxes are determined and paid, and then the remaining assets are distributed to the Decedent’s heirs, on a practical level the administration of an estate can involve a number of complexities. For example, not all of the property in a Decedent’s Estate is necessarily subject to probate. Often, a Decedent’s assets may be gathered and distributed to his or heirs without the formality of probate. Such a determination is generally made based upon an examination of the size of the Decedent’s Estate, the type of property in the estate and the type of ownership interest held by the Decedent in the property. Because such an examination can often involve complex legal analysis, it is generally advisable for an Executor or Administrator to consult with or retain an attorney prior to probating a loved one's will and opening his or her estate.
Remember, being an Executor or Administrator is a great responsibility. Many problems can arise during the probate process that can delay the ultimate disbursement of a Decedent’s Estate and unnecessarily consume valuable estate assets. Faulty or negligent probate administration by an Executor or Administrator can even lead to Orphans’ Court Litigation.
The lawyers at American Wills & Estates have extensive experience in guiding Executors and Administrators through the process of probating a love one's Will. We understand that losing a loved one is a difficult and emotional time. We will work directly with the Executor or Administrator in a professional and compassionate manner to ensure that the wishes of their loved one are carried out and that the probate process proceeds in a timely, orderly and cost-efficient manner. You can trust and count on our attorneys in your time of need.
WHAT REALLY SETS US APART? Unlike the vast majority of law firms, we offer our probate estate administration services on a LOW FLAT FEE BASIS. We also do not expect to be paid for our services until the administration of the estate has been completed. KNOW UPFRONT WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO PAY. DON'T GUESS. Most firms will tell you that they are going to bill you based on an hourly rate or that their fee will be determined on a percentage basis depending on the size of the estate. WHAT DOES THIS REALLY MEAN? It means that you might be in for a big surprise. DO THE MATH. If an attorney tells you that their fee is going to be five (5%) percent of the total value of the estate, that means you are going to pay $5,000.00 dollars in legal fees for every $100,000.00 in estate value. That can add up quickly to one very large legal fee at the end of the day. Likewise, on an hourly fee basis you won't know what you are actually going to pay until the estate has been completed. You will be entirely at the mercy of the attorney. Will they work quickly? How much are they going to bill you for the services that their paralegal provides? What will a telephone call or simple letter from you attorney actually cost you. ASK QUESTIONS AND BE CAREFUL. WE TAKE THE SURPRISE AND FEAR OUT OF THE WHOLE PROBATE PROCESS.
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