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PA Estate Administration Checklist

Updated: Mar 15

The death of a loved one or family member is difficult to swallow. And assuming the responsibility of administering the estate soon after the deceased's death can be very challenging.


If you've found yourself in this situation, this PA estate administration checklist will be extremely helpful as it gives you a step-by-step breakdown of what you need to do to administer the estate of the deceased.


PA Estate Administration Checklist

Locate the original will

The first thing to do is check if the deceased has a will. Most people keep their wills in a safe deposit box, courthouse safe, or with their attorneys. You can also find it in the deceased personal documents.


A will usually name the estate's executor and leave instructions on who gets what. However, it's important to find the original copy of the will as this will be filed with the court to open the estate. Can't find the original will? It happens. A photocopy will do, but only after a court has certified it as a true copy.


Explain the terms of the will to the beneficiaries

Each of the beneficiaries should get a copy of the will. Because wills can be complex, with most beneficiaries uninterested in reading the document, beneficiaries should also get a simple illustration explaining what they will get from the estate.


Determine the deceased's assets

All assets of the deceased such as bank accounts, real estate, business, should be appraised by a professional. Some jointly-owned assets, such as a home owned by a couple in joint tenancy, will automatically pass on to the survivor after the death of the other.


Pay inheritance tax

While some states have estate tax law, there's nothing of such in the state of Pennsylvania. No matter the value of an estate, nothing is charged on the deceased's estate. However, there is an inheritance tax, which is 4.5% on transfers to direct descendants, 12% on transfers to siblings, and 15% on transfers to other heirs. Charitable organizations and government institutions do not pay tax.


For residents, inheritance tax is charged on all physical properties such as real estate, automobiles, cash, jewelries, etc., located in Pennsylvania at the time of the deceased's death. Bonds, loans receivable, stocks, and other non-physical assets are taxed whether they are in Pennsylvania or not. The Federal estate tax also applies if required.


Pay liabilities and debts

Outstanding debts owed by the deceased, taxes, administration expenses, funeral bills, and other expenses must be paid before the estate is distributed.


Distribute the estate in accordance with the will

After collecting assets and paying off debts owed by the decedent and other expenses, the estate is then distributed according to the deceased's wishes. If the deceased died without leaving a will, the estate would be distributed according to Pennslyvania's intestate succession statutes.


There you go! Your step-by-step PA estate administration checklist! Want to know more about estate administration in Pennsylvania? Talk to the experts at McNickle & Bonner for free! Shoot us a mail or call to get started!

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