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Pennsylvania estate administration

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.

Going through probate in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the probate process must be started if an individual dies with property in his or her own name. The probate process begins with the executor or administrator of the deceased person's estate handling assets and other affairs for the deceased. The person overseeing the estate is called an administrator if the person appointed by the courts or an executor if he or she is specifically named in a will. Either an individual or a corporation may oversee an estate during probate.

Handling a person's credit card debt after their death

Residents of Pennsylvania may be wondering how credit card debt is handled after the cardholder dies. After death, debts do not disappear. Instead, they become part of the person's estate. If someone wrote a will before their death, it will name an executor to administer the estate. When someone fails to leave a will a probate court will name an adminstrator. This person often ends up being a child or spouse.

Late estate tax returns may carry penalties

Pennsylvania residents may be interested in a recent case that could affect taxpayers throughout the country. On June 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that the penalty assessed when an estate tax return is filed after the deadline is mandatory.

Proposed law would allow wills to cover digital assets

Although the promise of the "paperless society" has yet to realize its full potential, the rise of web-based services such as cloud computing and online data storage, along with web-based email, banking and investing accounts have become increasingly commonplace. But the convenience of being able to access one’s financial and other information from any place that has data connectivity has also on occasion created problems after a person passes away. Online services, often for privacy reasons, may hesitate or refuse to allow surviving relatives access to the decedent’s accounts.

Heirs struggle to assume mortgages before foreclosures

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued new guidelines for banks to deal with the growing problem of unnecessary foreclosures on homes after the named borrower passes away. The problem arises when the person with their name on the mortgage dies and their family must obtain all of the necessary information and access to make sure bills continue to be paid on time. This is problematic in several areas, most notably in the case of mortgages where notoriously difficult bank procedures make it hard for families to gain access to the loan account in time. 

Is The Giving Pledge a way to avoid conflict?

Warren Buffett has made it clear that his frugal nature has helped contribute to his extreme level of wealth. It is often a surprise to learn that despite his billions, he still lives in a house that he purchased years ago for somewhere around $30,000. 

Even 'permanent' estate tax exemptions aren't permanent

Taxes are a very common discussion where estate plans are concerned. Creating an estate plan that maximizes the legacy one can give to their heirs and beneficiaries is something that is surely sought after on a regular basis. After the American Taxpayer Relief Act was passed, the hype over the tax exemption seemed to die down quite a bit. Why; the act set the estate tax exemption at a permanent level of $5 million indexed for inflation. But how permanent is permanent?

NFL broadcaster's death good time to discuss ancillary probate

Pat Summerall may be best remembered by younger sports fans as the voice that broadcasted football games involving teams like the Philadelphia Eagles opposite John Madden in the NFL booth across the nation, but his career started well before that. He was born in Florida where he played a wide variety of sports but eventually went to Arkansas as football player.

Police officer's friendship under scrutiny, chiefs back his inheritance, II

In our prior post we shared the story of an eccentric elderly woman who decided to leave much of her estate to a police officer who she became friends with after he helped remove what she called "members of the nation's gang" from her property. That same property was left to the officer as well as a Cadillac, stocks and a bond.

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