Executor of Will Power in Pennsylvania

By Heather Frances J.D.

As executor of a Pennsylvania estate, you are responsible for properly following Pennsylvania law to distribute the deceased person’s assets as directed by his will. Pennsylvania law gives you certain authority and power, either with or without court direction, to help you accomplish these responsibilities.

Probate vs. Non-Probate Assets

Once you are appointed as executor, your powers extend to the probate assets in the decedent’s estate. Probate assets may include personal property or real estate that was not jointly owned with a right of survivorship. However, you typically will not have any power to control non-probate assets, such as life insurance or other assets with designated beneficiaries, assets held in trust, or real estate or bank accounts owned jointly with rights of survivorship, which means that when one of the joint owners dies, the account belongs to the surviving owner. Since these assets are distributed by their own terms rather than under the will, they do not go through the probate process.

Creditors

The decedent’s creditors may make claims against the estate, wanting payment for debts the decedent incurred during his lifetime. Under Pennsylvania law, your powers as executor include the power to deny claims that don’t appear to be valid. However, a creditor can contest your decision by presenting his claim to the court when you present the estate’s audit. If the creditor fails to present his claim at this time, he is no longer entitled to payment for that claim.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Payment of Debts

If the estate does not have enough cash available to pay the decedent’s debts, you may sell the decedent’s property to raise the money for payments. Under Pennsylvania law, you cannot sell real estate that was specifically given to a beneficiary without getting either that beneficiary’s permission or court permission first, but you can sell personal property under your general authority as executor. Usually, you can even sell personal property that was given to a specific beneficiary. However, the court has the ability to restrict your power to sell real or personal property.

Beneficiary Disputes

As executor, you have broad power to administer the estate as you determine is appropriate. However, beneficiaries of the estate also have authority to challenge your actions if you do something with which they disagree. The beneficiaries can file a challenge with the county register of wills or appeal with the local orphan’s court. The court may terminate your powers as executor under certain circumstances, such as if it determines you have mismanaged the estate or have failed to perform any of your legally required duties.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Rights of Executors in Kentucky
 

References

Related articles

What Authority Do I Have As the Executor of My Mother's Estate in Texas Laws?

Once you are named as the executor of your mother's Texas estate, you have many rights and responsibilities associated with its administration. Your duties will depend on the complexity of your mother's estate so it is important to exercise your authority in accordance with Texas law. If you have questions regarding the management of your mother's estate, you should consult an attorney.

Filing a Complaint Against the Decedent in Probate Court

Technically, you cannot file a legal complaint or initiate a lawsuit against someone who has died. However, this doesn’t mean you have no recourse if he wronged you in some way or owes you money. You can file some lawsuits against his estate instead.

Failure to File a Will In Probate Court In Georgia

If you are named as executor in a will in Georgia, you have a duty to follow the procedures outlined in the Georgia code, which include promptly filing the will with the probate court. If you fail to fulfill your role as executor, you could be liable if beneficiaries are financially harmed by your delay -- and you may lose your right to serve as executor. Therefore, it is in your own best interests, as well as in the best interests of the beneficiaries, to avoid delay and file the will as promptly as possible following the death of the will maker, known as the testator.

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

Related articles

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

The law refers to a person who drafts a will as a testator. When a testator drafts a will, he typically designates a ...

AZ Statute of Limitations for Contesting a Will

Arizona offers three types of probate proceedings: informal, formal and supervised. Supervised probate is rare and ...

What Is the Meaning of "Executor of an Estate"?

An executor is a person who manages the estate of the deceased, known as the decedent. Also called a personal ...

Can an Executor of a Will Close a Bank Account?

The executor of a will is responsible for managing the financial affairs of the estate. To do this job properly, the ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED