Q:My parents owned everything together jointly, but for a bank account in my father’s individual
name. He left everything to my mother by his will at the time of his death. Since my mother will receive the bank account by the terms of his will, does a Pennsylvania inheritance tax return need to be filed?
A:The answer is yes. Once an estate is opened and the will is probated, the Commonwealth will expect to see and have filed with it a Pennsylvania inheritance tax return, even though, it may be a rather abbreviated inheritance tax return, and no tax may be due. When one spouse dies and transfers an asset to the surviving spouse by will, there is no Pennsylvania inheritance tax levied on the transfer, however, an inheritance tax return needs to be filed.
Q:Decedent died about a year ago, and he failed to file his last three years of income tax returns. His will was probated. The estate is complete and the assets are to go to a charity. What can we do to close the estate?
A:An inheritance tax return will have to be filed, since an estate was opened when the will was probated. The charity does not pay inheritance tax on its gift. The Internal Revenue Service has a procedure that allows it to audit estates for a period of three years after death, and thus the estate should remain open because if a deficiency is found money needs to be available to pay the income taxes. The executor of the estate can file a form 4810 with the IRS to request prompt assessment of any tax due to allow the estate to be closed sooner than three years.
Q:My sister died in Ohio, and she owned a parcel of land in Pennsylvania. How do we transfer the land in Pennsylvania?
A:Since she died as a resident of Ohio, probate of her estate takes place in Ohio, and letters testamentary are issued from Ohio. An exemplified copy of the letters and record that relates to her probate must be obtained from the Ohio courts and transferred to the appropriate Pennsylvania county court, where an ancillary probate will take place. That court is willing to accept the fact that the probate has taken place in Ohio, but at the same time wants an exact record of what took place so that it knows who the executor is and where the documents can be found to prove that fact. The Ohio executor will then have authority to transfer Pennsylvania real estate from the estate of the decedent to a new buyer.
James M. Rayback is a practicing lawyer with the State College firm of James M. Rayback Inc.