When a family member dies, there is often much confusion about how the affairs of that person should be wound up and their assets distributed. Often there are debts to be paid and ongoing bills. In some cases, the deceased’s financial affairs may have been secret during his or her life.

It doesn’t matter whether someone is rich or not; in fact, some of the more complex problems can occur when there is less money rather than more. What bills get paid? Who deals with the creditors and bill collectors? Where will the money come from to pay taxes?

If someone has substantial assets, issues may range from federal estate tax questions to deciding how money is to be invested in a Credit Shelter Trust.

If you are appointed as a “fiduciary” (someone who is legally responsible for the finances of another), then you have very serious statutory duties and responsibilities. Failure to adhere to those responsibilities can result in major personal liability.

The Pennsylvania probate process is not a place to experiment, especially if other people are involved, even if they are your relatives. You need professional legal and tax advice in order to fulfill your responsibilities properly and effectively.