Executor Responsibilities in Pennsylvania Probate
In Pennsylvania probate, an executor is essentially responsible for:
- finalizing someone’s financial and legal affairs;
- protecting property and assets;
- ensuring that debts and taxes are paid; and
- transferring the remainder to those who are entitled to it.
Although it is not legally required that executors have a financial or legal background, having either is considered useful. What an executor absolutely must have, however, is a high standard of impartiality, the capacity to give the executor’s role full and due diligence, and the willingness to uphold what’s called a “fiduciary duty.”
Pennsylvania Probate: Executor Responsibilities and Functions
It’s considered both a privilege and a burden to serve as the executor of someone’s estate. The executor responsibilities are varied, and in many cases they are complex, including:
- obtaining the death certificate from the Funeral Home Director to prove the death of the Testator (decedent);
- managing the estate until it can be distributed to the heirs or next of kin – this can sometimes include deciding whether or not to sell real estate or securities in order to meet certain debts or tax burdens;
- deciding whether or not probate court proceedings are necessary – most joint-owned assets pass to the survivor without probate;
- determining who the rightful heirs are and what the division of property and assets is – in instances of a will, the executor is charged with implementing and enforcing the will. When there isn’t a will, the administrator must look into intestate succession statutes to determine the rightful heirs;
- notifying insurance companies of the Testator’s death;
- filing the will in probate court even if there won’t be a probate proceeding; and
- administering the day-to-day details such as terminating leases, credit cards, and notifying government agencies and banks of the Testator’s death.