How do estate administration laws view leftover property?

On behalf of Scaringi Law posted in Estate Planning on Friday, April 24, 2015.

Even when an estate plan is periodically updated, it can be hard to avoid surprises from property acquired subsequent to the creation of an estate plan. One example might be an individual who opened a new bank account shortly before his or her passing and who never named or forgot to name a beneficiary for that account.

So what happens when an asset is titled only in a decedent's name? Property titled in the principal of a living trust must be specifically identified, so the funds in the bank account example above wouldn't automatically transfer to a trust. Rather, such funds may be required to go through probate.

Fortunately, an option called expedited probate exists in Pennsylvania for small estates whose gross value does not exceed $50,000. Notably, real estate and property used for paying off funeral expenses generally is not included in that valuation. If a decedent named a personal representative in his or her will, that person may apply to handle the administration of the estate.

If an individual had a pour-over will to a trust, the proper course of action would depend on the specific type of assets. Some property, like bank accounts without a designated beneficiary, might require Letters Testamentary before they can be transferred.

Depending on the unique characteristics of each estate, different actions may be required. Determining the best course may be difficult until an individual thoroughly understands what the law requires. Our law firm focuses on estate planning and can help answer any questions you may have about administering an estate.

Source: FindLaw, "Pennsylvania Probate Laws," copyright 2015, Thomson Reuters

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