Estate Probate and Administration
Probate – Will Exists
Where the decedent left a valid Last Will and Testament, the legal proceeding is called a Probate, and the estate is distributed according to the terms of the will, to the beneficiaries named in the will.
Estate Administration – No Will
When there is no will (or the will does not comply with the required statutory formalities), the legal proceeding is called an Estate Administration, with the decedent passing intestate. Estate assets are distributed to the decedent’s legal heirs (pursuant to statute).
Our probate attorneys assist executors and administrators of wills and estates to ensure that the process goes smoothly and that the executor or administrator has no remaining personal liability after the process is completed. The probate attorneys at Miller Law also prepare the filing of estate and final income taxes.
An executor or administrator of an estate in Pennsylvania has a multiplicity of duties: including marshalling assets, doing an inventory, doing a final accounting, and distributing the assets to heirs in accordance with the controlling document: whether that document is a will or a trust. If there is no will or trust, the assets are distributed under Pennsylvania’s law of intestate succession.
Estate administration includes assets that need to go through the probate process (those assets controlled by a will) as well as non-probate assets such as trusts, life insurance benefits, and property owned in joint tenancy. While probating of wills is a public process, the administration of non-probate assets can be done privately at the same time as probate administration.