Estate administration is the procedure during which the estate of a person who has recently died is maintained and divided among his or her heirs or beneficiaries. This normally happens according to the instructions in a will, but in case there is no will, there are laws regulating that situation, as well.
If the person who died made and executed a valid will in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the process of estate administration normally follows the procedures and instructions laid out in the will.
Normally, wills assign an executor who is responsible for overseeing the administration of the estate, and seeing that its provisions are carried out, to the extent possible.
The executor is normally whoever stands to acquire the most money or property if the will is given effect, since that is the person who likely has the most incentive to do their part in seeing that the probate process plays out to completion.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If a will in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania does not name a person to serve as executor, or the decedent dies without having written a will, the court will assign a person to act as estate administrator.
This is usually the person who will benefit the most if the will is executed. If there is no will (a situation recognized as "intestacy"), Pennsylvania has a system of laws distributing the decedent's property to his or her closest living relative. In such a case, the closest living relative has the most to gain from an orderly administration of the estate, so they will usually be appointed.
In cases where the will doesn't name an executor, or the person named is unable to take on that role for whatever reason, any person who has some direct share in the decedent's estate (either because they're named in the will or stand to inherit by intestacy) can petition a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania court to be assigned executor.
Once an executor is assigned (whether by being named in the will, or on the application of another person), they "step into the shoes" of the estate, and are expected to safeguard its interests to the fullest extent possible. They further are obligated to accurately inventory the estate's debts and assets, as well as notify possible beneficiaries.
Can a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Estate Administration Attorney Help?
Some people are surprised when they find out they've been named the executor of a relative's estate. The responsibilities can seem daunting, but with the help of a seasoned Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania attorney, the process almost always goes pretty smoothly.