Estate and probate law varies from state to state, and income tax bracket might affect planning at the federal level. Many Pennsylvania families struggle to understand these laws because of the impact they have on the financial wellbeing of the family. Estate administration generally consists of assessing the estate for fair market value, selling whatever is necessary to satisfy final debts and disbursing any remaining proceeds to the decedent's survivors.
In the pre-probate phase, many estate administrators may need to obtain access to vital documents as soon as possible. These include passwords, the contents of safes or storage lockers, notifying the necessary state agencies and ensuring sufficient copies of the decedent's death certificate are available. However, if mechanisms are in place to allow the estate's assets to transfer automatically to survivors, this may not be necessary. Estate administration considers postmortem taxes as well as the likelihood of a will dispute. It is generally wise to file a final estate tax return with the IRS even if no taxes are owed. This may help prevent possible problems later.