Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Pennsylvania

Proper method for equal share to siblings

My father passed away in 2003. His will left assets to mom. Mom passed away on 12/26/06. Her will stated equal share to 4 siblings. I am the POA and joint owner of bank account. Bene of one Life Ins. policy is in the names of the 4 siblings. Bene of another policy is in my name. I full intend to divide monies equally. Is probate needed? of Life insurance polits wa I am the PO

Asked on 1/09/07, 3:11 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Douglas Humes Law Office of Douglas P. Humes

Re: Proper method for equal share to siblings

Life insurance proceeds pass outside of the estate to the beneficiaries designated by the owner. If you are named as sole beneficiary, then you are entitled to the entire proceeds. If your mother asked that you share equally with your siblings, then you may voluntarily do so to honor her wishes, but you are not legally required to do so.

As to probate, it depends on what assets are in her estate. If she owned real estate, then you would need to probate her will in order to have someone (the executor) with authority to dispose of the real estate. Ditto for securities. However, if the only estate is the bank account that is jointly held with you, and life insurance proceeds, and other personal property, then you may be able to skip probate entirely. However, you will still need to pay any inheritance tax due on the property in her estate. Again, insurance proceeds would not be in her estate and so not taxable. The bank account, even though titled in your name, may still be considered part of the taxable estate. Take an inventory of everything that you believe is in her estate and check with a lawyer to see whether you need to probate the will, and what you need to pay taxes on.

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Answered on 1/10/07, 4:35 am

John Davidson Law Office of John A. Davidson

Re: Proper method for equal share to siblings

First, you were your mother's agent. A power of attorney made you her agent. However, because your mom passed away then so did you ability to be her agent.

Unless the life insurance was payable to the estate it goes to the beneficiaries.

AS to the bank account and paying off mom's remaining bills you will need to open an estate and probate the will otherwise you have no authority to execute the terms of her will only an executor can do that so you need to enter the will in to probate and get letter testamentary so you can carry out the instructions of the will.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me.


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Answered on 1/09/07, 3:30 pm

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