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Why I Don’t Need a Lawyer to Help Me Administer a Pennsylvania Estate

An attempt at humor to explain why a lawyer might be helpful to you if you are named as an executor in a will or are about to administer the estate of a deceased relative or friend in Pennsylvania. Please see the important Warning at the end of this Article.

  • Who needs experts? When my car stalled, I tuned it myself; when my refrigerator stopped working, I fixed it myself; when I broke my leg, I set the bone myself. I’m sure I can do this correctly by myself.
  • I enjoy spending my time reading books and pamphlets about estate administration - I also love to read those lengthy instructions that accompany tax returns - I have too much time on my hands anyway.
  • I love to acquire knowledge for its own sake - it doesn’t matter to me that I  probably will never again be able to use this new-found knowledge about estate administration.
  • I enjoy the surprise of receiving notices from the IRS and I also enjoy the challenge of proving to the IRS agents that I was right, and they were wrong.
  • My neighbor didn’t have to pay any taxes when his father died and I live right next door - so I won’t owe any taxes for my father either.
  • I didn’t do any estate planning so why would I need to do anything special after someone else died.
  • If I take some action that I really didn’t need to take and if I pay probate fees or other expenses that really were unnecessary because I never asked a lawyer if I needed to do these things - so what - it’s only money.
  • I never bother myself about deadlines - I can’t worry about losing legal rights that may expire if I do miss some silly deadline.
  • The legal rules don’t apply to me - there’s always a loophole - if the rules say that I lose legal rights because I took some action that a lawyer may have warned me not to take, I’ll just find the loophole.
  • I really don’t care if I save taxes.
  • I’m not going to worry just because as the executor, I’m personally responsible for my actions if I pay the wrong people or pay the wrong amounts to the right people - I’m sure if some creditor or beneficiary or the government is shortchanged that they will understand and not expect me to pay them out of my own pocket.
  • So what if I could have cut off all claims after a certain time by taking actions that a lawyer might have recommended. I might be lucky and take the correct actions myself or perhaps those persons will forget about the claims against me or the estate..
  • If I do something wrong that a lawyer could have protected me against, I’ll know better for the next time.

Warning: This is not legal advice but is merely an attempt to alert the reader to possible problems that may arise from the failure to consult an attorney before acting as executor or administrator of a decedent’s estate in Pennsylvania. Many of the statements set forth above are intentionally wrong as an attempt to inject sarcasm into this Article. The facts of any particular situation may result in different legal consequences than those discussed or implied here. The information set forth here is intended to indicate some but not all the reasons you should refrain from acting before consulting an attorney. It is only meant to highlight those particular reasons that are addressed. There may be consequences in your particular situation not discussed here or improper actions in your case may have much more significant adverse consequences than those mentioned here. Some of the problems suggested may not apply in your situation. You are urged to consult an attorney before taking any action as an executor or administrator. You should not take any action (other than to consult an attorney) in reliance upon any information contained in this Article or upon anything implied by this Article.