The Uniform Probate Code (UPC) was written by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) to regulate the estates of deceased individuals and inheritances uniformly. The NCCUSL intended for every state to adopt the provisions of the UPC. However, only a few states have chosen to adopt the UPC in its entirety fully. Pennsylvania is not one of those states. If you or a family member need to know more about the UPC, you should consult with an experienced Pennsylvania probate lawyer. The dedicated attorneys at Herr Potts & Potts have over eight decades of experience handling estate administration and probate issues for clients in Pennsylvania. Herr Potts & Potts is here to explain the intricacies of the Uniform Probate Code in Pennsylvania.
How the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) Operates
Pennsylvania’s Uniform Probate Code is officially referred to as the “Probate, Estates, and Fiduciaries Code.” “Probate” refers to an area of law involving the distribution of a deceased person’s (decedent) estate. “Estates” refers to estate administration or the actions which must be taken to wrap up all of a decedent’s outstanding affairs. “Fiduciaries” deals with individuals who are involved in the administration of an estate, like a personal representative or executor. All three of these topics are handled by the orphans’ court division of Pennsylvania’s court of common pleas.
The UPC deals with a variety of topics concerning the estates of Pennsylvania residents. For example, the UPC dictates the necessary actions for appointing a guardian to a disabled or incapacitated person. It also deals with the formation and regulation of trusts. It even deals with “powers of attorney” to give control over your estate to another individual.
There are several areas of the UPC that a person should learn about if they want to plan their estate. An experienced elder law or estate planning attorney could help you discover vital information about the UPC.
How Probate Works in Pennsylvania
As mentioned above, Probate refers to the process that takes place when a person passes away. If the decedent dies and leaves a valid will behind, their property will be distributed in accordance with their will. A will is a legal document created by a person to distribute real and personal property and other owned assets to beneficiaries named in the document.
If a decedent dies and does not leave a valid will behind, their property will pass through intestacy. Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws essentially create a will for a person who has died intestate. Intestacy laws will begin by dividing your property among your closest relatives, meaning your spouse and children if you have any. If you are not married and do not have children, your property will pass to your parents or siblings. It is possible your property may end up in the hands of estranged relatives if there is no one close to you to accept your property.
Pennsylvania intestacy laws do not consider the special needs of any family members before distributing your property. That is why it is important to create a will if you wish to pass your property to a sick or disabled relative.
The will may also name a personal representative to handle the administration of the estate. If the creator of the will did not name a personal representative, the court or the clerk of the court would appoint one. The personal representative is responsible for handling a variety of issues involving the administration of an estate:
- Submitting the will for probate
- Notifying all the beneficiaries of the death of the decedent
- Notifying any outstanding creditors of the decedent’s death
- Gathering all of the assets of the decedent
- Paying creditors any debts they are owed
- Filing all necessary taxes
- Distribute leftover assets to the beneficiaries named
There are various kinds of property that can be distributed through the probate process:
- Real property like the decedent’s home
- Personal property like jewelry, furniture, or cars
- Interests in a business
- Life insurance policies
The UPC deals with several complex areas of elder law that an experienced probate attorney could make clearer.
Southeast Pennsylvania Elder Law Attorneys Can Help You with Estate Planning Problems
If you or a family member needs assistance with estate planning or probate, you should contact an experienced Pennsylvania estate planning attorney. The legal team at Herr Potts & Potts are here to help you with all of your estate planning needs. Our firm has handled various types of legal issues involving the Uniform Probate Code, and we are available to represent you. We will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the legal representation that you deserve. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at (610) 254-0114 or reach us online.