What Does It Mean to Be the Executor of an Estate?

            The Executor, or personal representative, is the person who is named in a will, or if there is no will, appointed by the Court, to carry out the administration of the decedent’s estate. There are very good books which lay out in detail the duties of a personal representative. This brief article is not meant to delve into great detail, but rather to familiarize the reader with the position of an executor of an estate. I hope this will take some of the fear out of being an executor.

            The estate is opened at the local Register of Wills Office. Your attorney will assist you with filing the proper Petition.  One of the first items to consider after the estate is formally opened is taking control of the decedent’s assets. This will be helpful later when an Inventory must be produced. Your attorney can assist you with that document as well.

            The Executor must take control of the decedent’s estate – which is all inclusive. All of the financial assets, the debts, the physical assets (for example, securing the boat, the house and the bank accounts!) associated with the decedent are now the responsibility of the executor. There are taxes and fees which must be paid. You will be filing an inheritance tax return – this is due nine months after the date of death at the latest. Final medical bills are also common. Everything that surrounds the decedent’s life must be addressed.

            Securing the assets may mean selling a home or farm – whatever the decedent owned and however he directed in his Last Will & Testament. There may be a house full of furniture to deal with. There are family considerations – making sure that the family is treated as directed in the Last Will & Testament.

            The Executor must see to it that all of the decedent’s financial assets and bills are addressed. The decedent’s financial accounts will be used, at least in part, to fund an estate account from which the estate’s bills, including the decedent’s final bills, will be paid.

            Once the assets are secured, the Inventory is prepared, the Inheritance Tax Return is complete, the Inheritance Tax is paid and accepted by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, the distribution of the decedent’s assets may commence.

            The job of an Executor is made easier by a lawyer with experience, one who understands how to help at each step. If you find yourself an Executor of an estate, call us. We can help.