Philadelphia, PA 215-843-6000    Marlton, NJ 856-817-6030

Probate & Estate Administration

Whether a decedent’s estate is large or small, we provide compassionate, experienced legal support to guide clients through probate and estate administration.

Estate Administration

The attorneys and staff of Jerner & Palmer, P.C. assist with all stages of a decedent’s estate, including securing Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration, collecting the deceased person’s assets, filing required tax returns, and communicating with and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

Disputes sometimes arise between personal representatives and beneficiaries. Such disputes often result from a lack of communication or as a result of a real or perceived lack of transparency in the estate administration process. Our attorneys can attempt to resolve such disputes informally and, when necessary, represent a beneficiary or a personal representative in court.

What is Probate?

Probate is the beginning of the estate administration process. If the deceased person had a Will, the executor named in the Will files the Will with the Register of Wills (in Pennsylvania) or with the Surrogate’s Court (in New Jersey) and is appointed the personal representative of the estate. If the deceased person died without a Will, a loved one can petition to be named as the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.

What is Estate Administration?

Administration of an estate consists of taking charge of the decedent’s affairs, including gathering information about the decedent’s property, paying the decedent’s bills, filing tax returns and paying income, inheritance and/or estate taxes, and distributing the remaining estate to the heirs or beneficiaries. Estate administration is often necessary even when there is no Will.

What are Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration?

Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration are different documents issued by the Register of Wills (in Pennsylvania) or Surrogate’s Court (in New Jersey) which authorize a particular person to act as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If the deceased person died with a Will, the document is referred to as Letters Testamentary. If the person died without a Will, the document is called Letters of Administration.

What are some of the duties of a Personal Representative?

  • Probate the Will or file a Petition to be named personal representative in the appropriate state and county.
  • Locate and notify heirs, beneficiaries and others required by law to receive notice of the grant of Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration.
  • Advertise the grant of Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration.
  • Obtain a federal employer identification number for the estate.
  • Open and maintain a bank account for the estate.
  • Locate and collect the deceased person’s assets.
  • Pay funeral and burial expenses.
  • Pay the deceased person’s debts.
  • File the deceased person’s final federal, state and local income tax returns and collect refunds or pay taxes due.
  • File Inheritance and/or Estate Tax Returns and pay any taxes due.
  • Ensure proper distribution of the deceased person’s property to heirs and beneficiaries.
  • Provide an accounting to heirs and beneficiaries.

For more information call us at 215-843-6000 or 856-817-6030