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.

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.

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

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


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.

How to Probate a Will in BC, Canada

In Canada, all wills are subject to probate, a court process that validates the will and gives the legal authority for distribution of the assets belonging to the estate. An executor named in the will is responsible for bringing the will to probate and handling the estate according to the will's instructions. Not all documents require probate but if you have been named executor, follow the legal procedures to avoid the loss of time and money in carrying out this task.

When Do the Assets Get Distributed After the Probate of a Will?

Probate is a legal process used to settle an estate. It includes determining whether the will is valid, notifying potential beneficiaries and creditors, making an inventory of the estate, paying any debts from the estate, and distributing the assets. The assets are distributed from an estate only after the bills have been paid and an inventory made. Some states require that the surviving family have a year stipend provided before creditors or beneficiaries are given a disposition of assets.

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

Related articles

Probating Wills in Pennsylvania

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

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." Usually, ...

Kentucky Executor Checklist

In Kentucky, the executor is the person named in a will to manage the estate of a deceased person, known as the ...

How to Contest a Will in Pennsylvania

There are several ways to contest a will in Pennsylvania. When a Pennsylvania will is first submitted for probate, it ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED