Many Pennsylvania residents name one of their children as the executor of their wills. If one or both of your parents have designated you as their executor, you will deal with a range of emotions in addition to the administrative tasks involved in administering the estate. Here’s how to carry out your duties as an executor when the time comes.
What is involved in estate administration
Once your mother or father dies, you’ll be responsible for carrying out their last wishes. While it is an honor to do this task, you’ll also have a host of legal duties involved inestate administration. You must take care of all financial obligations, including paying debts and taxes, notifying heirs, and properly dispersing the remaining assets. You must also attend any probate court sessions and maintain the property until the estate is settled.
Understanding your responsibilities is essential to sound estate administration. Each of the following steps is essential as you go through the process:
- Maintain clear communication
- Obtain copies of the death certificate
- Locate the original will and other estate documents
- Locate, inventory and maintain assets
- Determine if probate is necessary
- Alert creditors and the Social Security Administration
- Open a bank account to deal with estate finances
- Pay estate debts and taxes
- Distribute the assets
Don’t do everything on your own
Estate administration is complicated. The average estate takes one year to resolve. The larger the estate is, the longer it will take and the more tasks you’ll have to accomplish. Remember, you’ll encounter a flood of emotions, so get help whenever you can. Although you may be tempted to have another family member help you, doing so may not be the best decision.
Many estate tasks can be daunting. Hiring professionals such as tax advisors, investment counselors and other associated professionals can make the process easier. However, before you do so, review Pennsylvania’s rules regarding estate administration. Even if you do not directly administer your mother’s or father’s estate, you are still legally responsible for ensuring everyone follows the rules.