Legal Services at Reasonable Rates
We help middle-class families settle a loved one’s probate estate – efficiently and affordably. If you’ve had a death in your family, facing the estate administration process can be confusing and, at times, overwhelming: the forms, the deadlines, the unpublicized legal requirements – even the potential for personal liability of the executor if matters are not handled properly. We understand, and we’re here to help. When a family member’s estate is handled properly, you can avoid pitfalls, take advantage of savings opportunities, and have the matter closed efficiently – with as little hassle as possible. Here is how we provide service and value for you:
If you’ve been named executor of an estate, the last thing you want is to be held personally financially responsible for:
- creditors surfacing after the estate is closed
- claims from disgruntled beneficiaries
- problems with the IRS; Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, Attorney General, or Office of Inspector General; or other government agency
- fines, surcharges, interest charges, etc.
- unnecessary fees and costs
- other loss of funds
To avoid unpleasant (and costly) surprises, we make sure proper notices are given; property is secured; required advertising is made; deadlines are met; probate filings are made; will and trust terms are carried out; problem issues are addressed and resolved; and so on. We want to make sure you’re not on the hook after the assets are distributed and the estate is closed.
In addition, we help you look for opportunities to find savings. Can we file early and receive a 5% reduction in Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax? Are there deductions we can take for other tax savings? Can we separate IRA distributions to save taxes and enhance future tax-deferred wealth for beneficiaries?
We look at these, and many more issues, to spot ways to save money and thereby maximize inheritances.
We strive to provide high quality service. We’ll start right away to open the estate and get you the “short certificates” you’ll need to close accounts and liquidate property. We work with you to meet important priorities, including:
- opening an estate account
- paying the estate’s bills
- mapping out timetables and deadlines
- making proper distributions
- filing forms correctly and on time
- closing the estate as promptly and hassle-free as possible
Trained, experienced paralegals handle many of the routine responsibilities, providing greater efficiency and saving on legal fees. We use professional-grade estate accounting software to track deposits, expenditures, and other transactions. When the estate is ready to settle, we produce a detailed accounting that can be given to beneficiaries or submitted for probate court audit.
Peace of Mind
When things go wrong in an estate, family members may get unhappy and complain. Government agencies complain and threaten sanctions. At worst, family members can become estranged, and courts or government officials impose penalties.
When an estate is handled properly, you can relax and focus on the other issues that go along with the loss of a loved one.
Probate Demystified: In Plain English
A common complaint people have about estate administration is that they don’t understand the process, the terminology, and the reasons for jumping through the various legal hoops.
We do our best to remove the mystery by giving you clear explanations of what we will do, what you should do, and how the process will work.
Reasonable Rates for Middle America
We limit the estates we administer to those approximating $100,000 to $2 million in value, with rare exceptions. We have found that for estates in this range, our reasonable hourly rates provide a better value for clients than the fixed percentage fees charged by many firms.
A $500,000 estate with only a few types of assets may be no more complicated than an estate one-fourth that size. Why should you pay more for the same legal services? Our feeling is that you should pay for only the services you incur, and no more.
Also, by limiting our estate clientele to roughly the same size and degree of difficulty, we can work more efficiently, providing a higher level of service to all our clients.
To make sure our firm is a good fit to handle an estate, we meet with new clients first. We look at the estimated value of the estate, the number and types of assets, the proposed distribution, and other factors to determine if our firm is likely to be a good value for you. If so, we explain why, and give you a detailed description of how we’ll work for you and what we’ll charge.
If it appears the estate is not a good match with our system, for whatever reason, we’ll help you find another reputable firm that would better suit your needs.
Convenient Suburban Location
In most cases, our estate clients make only one trip to the Register of Wills to open the estate and be sworn in as executor or administrator. Before and after that, much of our business can be handled by phone, mail, fax, and e-mail.
When we do need to meet, you can come to our convenient suburban location in Pittsburgh’s South Hills. We’ll validate your parking at the garage located a short block away. Get directions.