Pennsylvania Laws on the Responsibilities for an Executor of an Estate

By Andrine Redsteer

Executors are fiduciaries, meaning they have a responsibility to take care of assets and distribute property according to a will maker's wishes. If a deceased person did not leave a will, the person appointed to fulfill the executor's role is called a personal representative. In Pennsylvania, executors administer estates through the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent lived.

Executors are fiduciaries, meaning they have a responsibility to take care of assets and distribute property according to a will maker's wishes. If a deceased person did not leave a will, the person appointed to fulfill the executor's role is called a personal representative. In Pennsylvania, executors administer estates through the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent lived.

Probating a Will

If the decedent made a will and the executor knows where the decedent kept the original will, the executor may submit the will to the Register of Wills. If the will is accepted as valid, the Register of Wills will provide the executor with his "letters testamentary." Letters testamentary give the executor authority to act on behalf of the estate. When an executor is given a "grant of letters," he has the authority to make financial transactions, such as accessing the decedent's bank account and paying bills.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Assets, Debts and Inventory

One of an executor's first orders of business is to gather as much information as possible regarding the deceased person's assets and debts and prepare an inventory. Once information about assets and debts is gathered, the executor must estimate how much of the assets will be needed to pay the decedent's taxes and debts. This information should be listed in the inventory. In Pennsylvania, an executor has six months from the date of the decedent's death to file the inventory with the Register of Wills.

Notifying Creditors and Heirs

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, an executor is responsible for notifying the decedent's creditors and heirs by advertising his grant of letters. An executor may advertise his grant of letters by running a notice in a local newspaper within three months from the date of the decedent's death. An executor is also responsible for sending written notices to heirs or beneficiaries named in the decedent's will within three months from the date of the decedent's death.

Paying Debt and Taxes

Pennsylvania requires executors to file inheritance taxes within nine months of the date of the decedent's death. Moreover, an executor must file a federal estate tax return and other returns if the decedent owned property outside of Pennsylvania. When creditors submit claims, the executor must pay the claims, provided the claims are valid and approved by the Register of Wills.

Distributing the Estate

An executor is responsible for distributing assets to heirs or beneficiaries. Typically, assets are distributed after taxes and debts are paid. However, an executor may make distributions after filing an inventory and receiving approval from the Register of Wills. Once all assets have been distributed and debts and taxes paid, the executor may file a final notice with the Register of Wills.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
The Amount of Time Allowed to Probate a Will in Pennsylvania

References

Related articles

What Are the Duties of an Executor of a Will in Delaware?

In Delaware, residents may draft wills directing the distribution of their property after death. A testator, or will maker, typically names an executor in his will whose primary duty will be to gather and distribute his assets upon his death. The Register of Wills formally appoints the executor. Once a formal appointment is made, the executor can legally carry out his duties of administering the decedent's estate.

What Is a Notice of Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process for determining and gathering the assets of a deceased person, known as the decedent, paying his debts, and distributing his assets to his beneficiaries and heirs. Although state law varies regarding specific procedures, notice of probate is meant to accomplish the same thing in every state; that is, notice of probate gives parties who have an interest in a decedent's estate warning that the probate process is being initiated. As beneficiaries may not know they were included in a decedent's will, notice gives them an opportunity to assert their rights at the very beginning of probate administration.

What Actions Must an Executor Take Upon a Death in Utah?

Settling the affairs of a deceased person, known as a decedent, may include only a few basic tasks for a small estate, but can be very complex for larger estates or estates with numerous creditors and beneficiaries. Executors may be personally liable for errors and oversights, so hiring an attorney who is licensed in the state of Utah is wise for large or complicated estates. Executors are entitled to payment for duties, and all costs of settling the estate are paid from the estate’s assets.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

What Can the Executor of a Will Legally Do in Pennsylvania?

An executor is the person named in a will who handles the estate of a deceased person, called the "testator." ...

Duties of the Executor of a Will in Texas

Wills often nominate an executor to administer the deceased’s estate after he dies. Once officially appointed by ...

What Is the Meaning of Settle Estate?

A Last Will and Testament contains instructions for the distribution of a person's assets, also referred to as the ...

Probating Wills in Pennsylvania

Although probate has a reputation for being time-consuming and complicated, the entire process can be completed in ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED