Our client was the surviving wife whose beloved husband passed without a Will. Her husband was a successful business owner who built his business from a small startup to an enterprise with many employees. His death came at a great surprise because he was always a vibrant man who passed well before his expected time. The sudden shock and trauma of the loss combined with the lack of a Will created an overwhelming situation. His wife and family were now faced with a confusing probate and business succession situation.
The surviving wife came to us with limited experience with her husband’s business matters. Although the couple went through life together as the business was built, she was generally unfamiliar with the details of the business. She knew and trusted her husband’s business partners but was unsure what her rights were in the business.
The first step was to help our client understand her rights in the business. The business partners had a buy-sell agreement in place for contingencies of incapacity or death. This agreement outlined an orderly business succession if any of the partners were to pass away. It also required the other partners to purchase the husband’s interest. We represented our client for negotiations related to the buyout and ensured the terms of the buy-sell agreement were followed.
The passing of a loved one is very difficult for a family. Sometimes a loved one’s end-of-life phase is a long struggle for those who provided care and support during the aging process. Our beloved client found himself in that very situation with the care of his mother. Our client’s mother fought a long and difficult battle with cancer before her eventual passing. Both he and his siblings cared greatly for her wellbeing but were exhausted after a two-year struggle.
It was our client who stepped forward to handle the legal and financial issues for the family after the funeral. He knew that his mother had a Will, but the original was lost. The surviving beneficiaries also had many questions. Who would serve as the estate representative? What should be done with the residence and rental properties? Would the representative or beneficiaries have to go to court? How long would probate take?
Our client came to our office to gain clarity and direction for what to do next. We assessed the situation and determined that most of the assets would go through probate. This was because the assets were titled in the mother’s name and had never been moved to a trust or business entity. But our client soon learned that Pennsylvania probate does not have to be a difficult process when the estate is properly managed.
Real estate often makes up the largest asset in a loved one’s estate. But transferring real estate can be tricky, especially if the property is tied up in a legal situation. Legal problems can prevent the sale of estate property or cause the proceeds of sale to be held in escrow.
We regularly encounter roadblocks to sale of estate property. Here are four common situations and how they can be resolved.
Property owned by a grandparent but nothing was done.
When a family property is titled in a grandparent’s name, the children and grandchildren may want to sell the property or transfer it to the descendants. But these transfers can be very difficult. The main roadblock that arises is when the family members who were in line to receive from the grandparent have passed away. In these situations, multiple estates must be opened, and many family members involved.
The solution to these complex situations is to walk through probate step by step for each estate and each heir. If any interest is skipped in the process, the property will not have clear title.
Separating title to property co-owned with another person.