Finding out that you have been selected to be a family member’s executor can be both an honor and a tremendous time commitment. Although each estate administration is different depending on the complexity and problems that may arise, there are certain executor duties that are consistent regardless of those complexities and problems. It is important to understand that an executor has no responsibility until death has occurred. Just because you are named as an executor in a will doesn’t mean you have to accept that role. If you don’t want to act as an executor, you can sign a waiver.
The first step an executor should take after a death is to locate the deceased’s original will. The original will is required to submit an application for wills to the county will register. This process of filing the application with the will register in the county of the deceased’s last place of residence is known as probation.
Next, the executor has to wait for the death certificate to be issued. Usually the funeral home or crematorium will assist the family in applying for the death certificate. It is important that the executor carefully fills out the death certificate application to ensure that important information such as the deceased’s social security number and district of residence is correct. It is also important to make sure that you order enough death certificates. This number depends on the assets. However, typically ten to fifteen is a sufficient amount.
The executor must then begin compiling a list of current assets, debts, and expenses. This information is needed to determine if the estate needs review. However, it is important to note that even if the estate does not need to be audited, there are still legal requirements to be met, such as: B. Payment of Pennsylvania inheritance tax. This also helps the executor to prioritize the expenses to be paid.
Once the estate application has been submitted and the will register has issued will letters, the executor has many legal obligations to fulfill. It is important that the executor faithfully perform these duties. Failure to do so could result in personal liability. The executor must keep the assets of the estate safe and secure for the beneficiaries of the estate. The executor must also evaluate the deceased’s assets by obtaining expert opinions and assessments from financial institutions on the date of death. An example of other tasks that the executor must perform include: promoting the administration of the estate; Send notices to the beneficiaries of the will and to those who are required to notify under Pennsylvania law; Applying for an EIN for the estate; Opening an estate account; Filing required death tax returns, including Pennsylvania inheritance tax return; Filing an inventory of assets with the will register; and sale, liquidation, and distribution of the deceased’s assets under the will.
An executor does not have to do these tasks alone. Mastering the complexity of estate administration is no easy feat. An executor can hire a lawyer to assist him in performing these duties. Legal fees are paid out of the estate as general administration costs.
Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esquire, is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and certified as an elderly law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, as approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. She is the director of the law firm O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, PC, 41 High Street, Pottstown, and 347 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-323-2800, www. owmlaw.com. You can reach Ms. Hobbs at email@example.com