Estate Administration

During the loss of a loved one, serving as executor may not be something you feel you can do. Having an expert by your side to stand in can make a difficult time easier.

Administering the estate of someone who has died is not an easy process. Occasionally, there are more hurdles than usual for settling their estate. 

It’s common for problems to arise when there are multiple executors who do not get along or when a beneficiary does not agree with the actions of the named executor. More often, though, the named executor is not willing or able to serve in this role. In these cases, the best option is relinquish this responsibility. It’s important to remember that this has no bearing on the status of being a beneficiary of a will.

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is not difficult for someone to renounce their role as executor and hand over accountability to another individual; it only requires the completion of a simple form. 

Before you choose an action, take the time to consider how different scenarios could play out. Speaking with someone who is an expert in estate law will set your mind at ease and help you make the most informed decisions. Call our office at 724-216-5180 or email us at john@jacochranlaw.com to learn about your legal options.

How to Serve as an Estate Executor

a photo of a last will and testament

A loved one dies and you’re the executor of their will. Now what? 

Unlike the scenes laid out in movies, rarely is everyone gathered at the attorney’s office at once for a reading of the will, complete with gasps and tears at surprise announcements. It makes for great drama on the screen, but as you can imagine, real life is rarely that… interesting.

Hopefully the person who named you in the will told you they were doing so. Some people are caught off guard. Let’s assume you knew you were being asked to be an executor.  

What does that even mean? 

As executor, you are responsible for settling all of the debts of the departed, distributing items per their wishes and dividing the remaining material wealth amongst named beneficiaries. 

Step one is determining if the will needs to be probated and then filing the will in the appropriate local probate court. While there is not a time limit on when you must do this, the longer you hold off, the greater the chance additional problems will arise and thus unnecessarily complicate the estate’s administration. This can get tricky and you should definitely have an attorney help you navigate this. 

You’re also responsible for finding assets owned by the departed and safekeeping them. If other people have property, you’ll need to collect it… one way or another. Yes, this is also another step where it’s important to have an attorney at your side.

Further, you will need to contact any places where the departed had bank accounts, credit card accounts, and various insurance policies. You will also need to contact pension plans, the Social Security Administration, and any other government or private organization that paid them benefits. Then you will need to contact anyone in debt to the departed and collect on those debts. You’ll also need to pay any taxes the estate owes to be able to fully settle the estate.

After distributing property and/or selling off anything the beneficiaries do not want, the proceeds must be distributed accordingly and only then can the estate be closed. 

Easy-peasy, right? You can probably tell we’ve barely scratched the surface of what serving as executor of the will of a loved one can entail. If you’ve recently learned you’ve been named as executor, or want to plan for your future duties, preparing now can help make the entire process go much more smoothly. Call our office at 724-216-5180 or email us at john@jacochranlaw.com to get started. 

Taxman Disputes Solved

This is the time of year you typically start to see those thick letters come from the U.S. Treasury Office. Congratulations! You’re being audited!

Your first response may be to release a stream of creative explicatives. This is normal.

Say what you need to and get it all out.

Your next response should be to carefully review what the IRS or PA Department of Revenue is accusing you of having misstated. Gather up all your information and supporting documentation for the items in question, then call an experienced attorney for a consultation on your situation. Today.

Do not respond to the letter until you have spoken to a professional. BUT, do not ignore it either. I promise you, it won’t go away if you put it in a drawer and forget it. Delaying can add interest to any outstanding debts and further complicate your case. 

If you’re a business owner, you may think your first call should be to your accountant, but generally these are not the best resources as there is only limited accountant-client confidentiality. The taxman could potentially could gain access to your communications with your accountant or financial adviser and use them against you. However, any communications between you and an attorney are protected by attorney-client privilege.

With extensive experience in all types of tax disputes, I can help you resolve your problems and minimize your tax exposure. Call my office at 724-216-5180. 


Taxes Filed-Return Paid: Now Plan for Next Year

A photo of letterhead
Preparing now for next tax season is worth the peace of mind! We can help you get organized.

Congratulations! You filed your taxes on time and your payment (or refund!) is being processed as you read this. For some, this is an annual feeling of accomplishment. However, for many – maybe even you – it was a time of great stress, filled with blood, sweat and tears. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. By having a solid plan for next year, you won’t be scrambling to get your material together when tax time rolls around again. 

Does your income fluctuate throughout the year? It’s possible to lower or even avoid the penalties by annualizing your income and making unequal payments. Even better, as a business owner, if you properly estimate your quarterly taxes, you save money by not paying late or underpayment penalties. It can also lower your risk of being audited by the IRS.

I know many business owners who start off each year with what seems like a great plan for keeping an organized system. You know what they say about the road to (tax) hell… it’s paved with good intentions. Losing your way isn’t just frustrating, it can be expensive!

Need a little help organizing your payroll and bookkeeping, or sorting out penalties from past mistakes? We can help you get on the road to recovery and not approach tax payment with the same sense of dread. 

As an experienced CPA and tax attorney, I can help you comply with both the IRS and Pennsylvania state tax laws. We can even minimize your taxes through effective use of deduction, credits and other tools. 

Schedule a consultation with us today, by calling 724-216-0704 or emailing at john@jacochranlaw.com.