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Mar 15, 2013 - Estate Planning

What Does Probate Cost?

In Pennsylvania, there is no legally prescribed amount for fees payable to the probate lawyer or commissions or fees payable to the executor or administrator of the estate.  However, all fees and commissions must be “reasonable” in amount. At Drake, Hileman & Davis, we believe that lawyers should charge by the hour for their work and that a law firm should employ qualified paralegals to do as much of the work as possible in order to keep fees reasonable. Some lawyers charge a fixed fee for estate administration work based upon a percentage of the gross value of estate (regardless of debts). We believe that such an approach may result in a windfall payment to the lawyer. The fees paid to the Register of Wills for opening probate are also based on the value of the Estate and vary from county to county and have tended to increase over the years. We can help you with a quick calculation of how much probate might cost you. Please contact the law firm of Drake, Hileman & Davis for an evaluation of whether or not probate of the estate is necessary, and for a careful estimate of what the fees, costs and expenses of probate will be. Click here to contact us regarding probate, estate or trust administration matters. Avoid expensive probate mistakes, delays and unnecessary litigation. Contact an estate administration lawyer at the Doylestown law firm of Drake, Hileman & Davis for helpful legal advice and satisfying results.

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Mar 15, 2013 - Estate Planning

Does a Trust Require Probate?

There are many different kinds of trusts, and trusts can serve many different purposes. Some trusts are created during the life of the person who creates the trust (known as the “Settlor”). They are called “inter-vivos” or “living” trusts. Other trusts are created under the Will of a testator. They are called “testamentary” trusts, and don’t come into effect until the testator dies. A revocable living trust can be used to avoid probate, either in whole or in part, depending on whether all of the probate assets of the Settlor are titled to the Trust before the Settlor dies. A testamentary trust, on the other hand, requires probate of the Will before the testamentary trust can be established and funded. However, regardless of the type of trust, Pennsylvania’s version of the Uniform Trust Act (“UTA”) requires trustees to comply with various requirements. Failure to do so can result in substantial penalties. At Drake, Hileman & Davis we have the experience and expertise necessary to handle the administration of all kinds of trusts, including living and testamentary trusts. Click here to contact us regarding probate, estate or trust administration matters. Avoid expensive probate mistakes, delays and unnecessary litigation. Contact an estate administration lawyer at the Doylestown law firm of Drake, Hileman & Davis for helpful legal advice and satisfying results.

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Mar 15, 2013 - Estate Planning

What Is Required for a Valid Will?

A Will should be in writing (printed or typewritten), signed by the person making the Will (called the “testator”), dated, and signed in the presence of two disinterested witnesses and a separate disinterested notary public, all of whom must be of legal age and all of whom must be present at the same place and time and observe each of the other participants sign the Will. The document should clearly state that it is the testator’s Will. In order to make a valid Will, the testator must be of sound mind (that is, not subject to any undue influence, duress, coercion or fraud). If the Will meets all of these tests it is valid and may be properly probated. A Will that is not acknowledged by a Notary Public is still valid, but it will not qualify as a “self-proving” Will. In that case, the witnesses will need to appear before the Register of Wills and verify the testator’s signature on the Will. If the Will is handwritten (a holographic Will), then it must be entirely in the testator’s handwriting. It can’t be partially typed. The handwritten Will must be dated and signed at the end, and the testator has to be of sound mind. If it meets all of these tests, it does not need to be witnessed to be a valid Will. Contact us at Drake, Hileman & Davis for an evaluation of any Will, particularly if you are uncertain if the Will is valid or can or […]

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Mar 15, 2013 - Estate Planning

Will We Need a Formal Probate Administration of the Estate?

If there is a Will or no estate plan document at all, it is likely that a probate administration will be required. Some types of property, however, pass without probate, including the following: Assets held jointly, either as “tenancy by the entireties” between a husband and wife, or as “joint tenants with right of survivorship” between any two or more persons who are not married. (In the case of a husband and wife, it is often the case that probate is not required where all assets were owned jointly by the husband and wife); Accounts that are payable on death (“POD Accounts”) to a named person; Accounts that have one or more named beneficiaries, such as retirement accounts including IRA accounts, 401(k) accounts, and annuities; Life insurance policies having a beneficiary designation. Contact one of the knowledgeable attorneys at Drake, Hileman & Davis if you are uncertain whether or not probate is necessary or if you are confronted with issues regarding beneficiary designations, joint ownership, or payable on death accounts. Click here to contact us regarding probate, estate or trust administration matters. Avoid expensive probate mistakes, delays and unnecessary litigation. Contact an estate administration lawyer at the Doylestown law firm of Drake, Hileman & Davis for helpful legal advice and satisfying results.

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Mar 15, 2013 - Car Accidents

POLICE OFFICER AND 3 OTHERS INJURED IN COLLISION

By Jonathan Russell of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Car Accidents on Friday, March 15, 2013. Multiple accidents could happen in the same area and could be caused by a previous incident. Car accidents can occur for various reasons, but can often be attributed to hazards on the road, speed, negligence and reckless driving. A driver who is not paying attention to the road may in turn cause an incident. Texting while driving can be very dangerous and could result in a collision. In addition, if an accident occurred up ahead, the distracted driver won’t be able to properly slow down or avoid any upcoming hazards that could have resulted from the accident. An accident occurred in West Rockhill and involved four victims. At around 8:00 p.m. the incident happened southbound on Route 309. Two police officers were assisting the driver of an RV. The RV had been partially blocking the roadway and while they were providing assistance a vehicle struck one of the police cars. The impact caused the police car to strike the other police car causing the second car to hit one of the officers. The vehicle that struck the first police car was traveling with three people inside. Emergency crews responded to the crash and the police officer struck by the vehicle was transported to the hospital. The three inside the striking vehicle were reported to have suffered injuries, but the extent of their injuries was not known. The incident remains under investigation. Authorities […]

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Mar 10, 2013 - Pedestrian Accidents

PEDESTRIAN INJURED WHILE CROSSING THE ROAD IN WAYNESBORO

By Jonathan Russell of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Pedestrian Accidents on Sunday, March 10, 2013. Accidents are naturally unexpected and usually occur when least expected in Pennsylvania. A pedestrian accident often happens suddenly and does not allow enough time for the pedestrian to get out of the way or avoid serious injuries. A person struck by a vehicle, no matter the size, can suffer severe injuries. Crosswalks are seen in cities, residential areas and small towns and their frequency requires both drivers and pedestrians to beware of one another. It is crucial that drivers reduce their speeds in areas where pedestrians are present or known to be present and be prepared to slow down or stop to give them the right away. A Waynesboro man was critically injured in a pedestrian-vehicle accident. A vehicle struck the man while he was crossing East Second Street at around 8:38 p.m. A car traveling eastbound hit the pedestrian, but it is not yet determined if the man was in the crosswalk at the time of collision. Emergency crews responded to the incident and assed those that were involved. Medical crews found the pedestrian to be in critical condition and transported him to the hospital. The accident is still under investigation and the cause for the crash is not determined at this time. Details such as the speed of the vehicle, traffic signals near the accident site and the location of the pedestrian during the collision need to be assessed. A pedestrian […]

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Mar 8, 2013 - Truck Accidents

THREE-TRUCK CRASHED CAUSED BY FALLEN MATTRESS KILLS ONE

By Jonathan Russell of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Truck Accidents on Friday, March 8, 2013. No matter what time of day, residents usually witness semi-trucks and tractor-trailers on major roads in Pennsylvania en route to their destinations. The high frequency of trucks on the roads can increase the likelihood of a truck accident occurring on the roadway. These massive vehicles can create a large accident site that will not only block traffic but could also cause other vehicles or even trucks to become involved in the collision. A crash involving these enormous trucks could cause severe damage to other vehicles, serious injuries and even fatalities. A chain-reaction collision occurred on Interstate 83 and the accident was caused by fallen debris on the roadway. It was determined that a mattress fell off of a vehicle and was the culprit to a three-truck crash. When approaching the mattress on the interstate, two service trucks slowed down. This caused a tractor-trailer traveling behind the second service truck to slam into it from behind. This sent the service truck crashing into the first service truck. This three-vehicle collision caused a fiery accident scene. Emergency crews responded to the collision. The driver of the second service truck did not survive the crash. The other two drivers were suffered injuries and were transported to the hospital. Police are still investigating the accident. The driver of the vehicle who lost the mattress stopped at the accident site and is cooperating with the investigation. A […]

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Feb 28, 2013 - Truck Accidents

THREE INJURED IN A TRACTOR-TRAILER COLLISION

By Jonathan Russell of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Truck Accidents on Thursday, February 28, 2013. Accidents can result in numerous victims regardless of the number of vehicles involved. A truck accident clearly involves a massive vehicle that could create a hazardous accident site for any vehicle or passenger involved in the incident. Not only does the size impact the magnitude of the accident, but it also affects the intensity of the collision. A vehicle being struck by a tractor-trailer or a semi-truck can receive severe damage and passengers involved can be seriously injured. A couple and their 1-year-old were involved in a truck accident in Chautauqua County. The collision occurred during the early morning hours when the three area residents traveling in a pickup truck crashed into a parked tractor-trailer. Due to poor visibility, the driver of the tractor-trailer had stopped on Interstate 86 in the eastbound lane. Emergency crews responded to the scene of the accident and assessed everyone involved. The driver and two passengers of the pickup truck were all transported to the hospital for injuries suffered from the collision. The truck driver did not sustain any injuries. The accident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed at this time. Liability has not been determined, but could fall upon either party depending on the circumstances. If there was poor visibility and the truck driver did not take proper precautions, the driver of the tractor-trailer could be found liable. A person injured in […]

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Feb 25, 2013 - Wrongful Death

ELDERLY DRIVER DIES AFTER TWO-CAR COLLISION

By Jonathan Russell of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. posted in Wrongful Death on Monday, February 25, 2013. Certain safety features can play a major role in the severity of an injury resulting from an accident. Whether is it a malfunction or the lack of usage, the failed use of a safety mechanism could be the very reason for wrongful death in a fatal car accident. Even though it is well known to drivers that they should always wear their seatbelts, even when worn, the safety restraints could be hazardous if they are not functioning properly. Although not all vehicles are equipped with air bags, when they are an included safety feature in an automobile and they fail to deploy, that could cause a motor-vehicle accident to turn fatal. Pennsylvania State Police recently responded to an automobile collision that occurred on Route 147. At around 11:30 am, a collision between a full-sized pick-up truck and an SUV happened near Elmer Avenue. Emergency crews were dispatched to the scene of the accident. The drivers of both vehicles, a 70-year-old female and a 30-year-old male, were transported to the hospital for the injuries they suffered. The elderly woman suffered blunt force trauma and did not survive her critical injuries. The accident remains under investigation. Police determined that the elderly woman was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, but they found that the airbag in her SUV did not deploy. No conclusions have been made, but the failed airbag might […]

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