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Probate and Estate

The information below contains public-domain details of the probate and estate processes used in our area. It is not legal advice. Please contact your attorney for legal assistance if you should require it.

● There is no Federal Estate Tax unless the estate is valued in excess of $11,400,000 as of 2019.

● There are four rates of Inheritance Tax in the state of Pennsylvania:

- 0% for assets jointly owned and transferred to a spouse
- 4.5% for assets transferred to lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.)
- 12% for assets transferred to siblings (brothers and sisters)
- 15% for assets transferred to others (nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, unrelated people)

● There is no Inheritance Tax in the state of New Jersey.

● Probate a will: Contact the Register of Wills (PA) or County Surrogate Office (NJ) in the county of residence. Typically, the Executor will need to take the Will, Death Certificate, and payment for services rendered.

- Call to verify scheduling, fees, and supporting documentation needed.
- The county office will provide Letters Testamentary naming the Executor and authorizing creation of an Estate.
- When at the county office, ask for any relevant Inheritance Tax forms needed for the estate. Inheritance tax forms can also be found by searching the internet for “PA inheritance tax forms.”

● Obtain an EIN tax identification number for the estate at the IRS web site: The application process takes approximately 5 minutes.

● Create an Estate Bank Account: The Executor establishes an estate bank account at the banking institution of their choosing by providing the Letters Testamentary and other supporting documentation as stipulated by the selected bank. The bank will issue checks that can be used to pay the estate’s expenses.

● Move cash assets from other financial institutions into the estate account.

● Any payments made to the deceased or to the Estate are to be deposited into the estate account.

● Re-title to beneficiaries or sell as appropriate: real estate, financial investments, automobiles, firearms.

● Re-title to beneficiaries: IRAs and other retirement funds.

● Close accounts as needed for: health or other insurances, cell phone, internet, cable, subscriptions, credit cards, etc.

● Pay any bills or estate expenses from the estate account; including reimbursement of any funeral related expenses or other estate expenses paid directly by family members.

● Pay inheritance taxes for all beneficiaries from the estate account.

Montgomery County:

Web site
One Montgomery Plaza, 4th Floor, 425 Swede Street, Norristown, PA 19404

Bucks County:

Web site
Bucks County Court House, Third Floor, 55 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA 18901

Philadelphia County:

Web site
City Hall, Room 180, Broad and Market Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19107