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Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 114799
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
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My uncle died in Philadelphia w/o a will. He had no spouse

Customer Question

My uncle died in Philadelphia w/o a will. He had no spouse or children. His estate consists of bank accounts, with no property other than clothes. My mother is his beneficiary and only living sibling. She is 88 and lives in Florida w/ my father, who is her caregiver along with another brother and hospice care. She cannot travel due to dementia and health issues. My father wants my brother and I to act as administrators of her inheritance. My uncle gave me durable POA in his last two weeks. I was told we can do this long distance if three things happen. First my dad needs to get a notarized court-ordered POA from Florida. Secondly, mom has to sign/notarized a renunciation form. Finally, I need to bring in my uncle's death certificate. What is a court-ordered POA? Can't my mom or dad just sign the renunciation form? He handles her business now as her spouse. Plus my mom does still have lucid moments. Please help.
JA: Since estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Pennsylvania
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: Just starting the process and want to file to be a co- administrator of my uncle's estate on behalf of my mother. Was told by a clerk in Philadelphia' s City Hall, Registrar of Wills, that 3 things mentioned had to be done first.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: This is not a huge settlement, approx. $190,000 in bank accounts. Would like to handle this w/o unnecessary legal fees. No offense.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Unfortunately, your PoA ended with your uncle's death. Now you need to open probate, which you can do on behalf of your mom, but you would need to have a PoA from your mom, who is mentally not able to sign one, so you have to go to court and file a petition for guardianship over your mom and you can ask the court for the court to appoint you guardian or PoA, your choice, guardianship is better if she has dementia because it will allow you to continue to handle and manage her affairs.
She cannot sign anything now if she has dementia, so you need to go through a court and present evidence she is not mentally competent and get court ordered guardianship.
While you may not want to spend money on legal fees, you will need an attorney in Probate in PA, especially since the money in the estate is nothing to sneeze at and you will need to collect all of his assets and will need to pay all of his debts from that money, including any medicaid payback if medicaid makes a claim. Generally, a probate attorney in PA will charge you about 5% of the total estate value and can take fees from the estate. Then you would need to also make sure a final estate tax return is filed in PA and with the IRS and pay any taxes due in PA on inheritance (which is about 12%).
This is not quite as simple as just sending forms to the clerk in PA. Simplified probate, without probate court process in PA is only for estates $50,000 and less, so this estate will not qualify. So a petition for probate must be filed, all possible heirs must be notified, the estate probate must be advertised in the paper for notice to creditors or possible heirs and any known creditors need to be notified and payments made to them.
But you cannot do anything until you file in FL for guardianship or PoA through the court on your mother and under FL court rules, ALL guardianship matters of an incapacitated adult require a FL attorney to file the petitions and obtain the guardianship.
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