What must I do if I am named executor?
Responsibilities of executors vary greatly from estate to estate, depending on the particular
circumstances of the decedent. However, there are certain forms that are required to be filed in
all estates.

Notice must be given to all beneficiaries named in the will, and spouse and children if there is no
will, of the death of the decedent and the appointment of the personal representative. A copy of
the probated will may be sent to those named in the will.

Certification of notice must be filed with the Register of Wills verifying that the personal
representative has sent these notices. One of the major responsibilities of the personal representative is to determine what assets the decedent had in his name alone (probate assets) and are, therefore, under the control of the personal representative and subject to distribution under the terms of the will.

These assets may be cash, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, investment accounts, personal
property, business interest, real estate, life insurance, and/or retirement benefits. These assets may be subject to Pennsylvania inheritance tax and possible federal estate tax, if the gross estate is over $1,000,000 (2003). Therefore, these assets must be valued as of date of death and reported as such on the death tax returns.

Outstanding debts of the decedent, along with funeral expenses and estate administration
expenses, must be determined and paid out of the estate assets before any distributions to beneficiaries. These debts and expenses are allowable deductions for Pennsylvania inheritance tax and federal estate tax purposes. If the estate is insolvent (debts exceed assets), then the personal representative is responsible to
pay claims based on a schedule of priority of payments.

Show All Answers

1. Must all wills be probated? Can money distribution be made to heirs without probate?
2. If someone dies, where will I find the will?
3. What happens if I can’t find the will?
4. What if I know there is no will?
5. What must be legally done with the will?
6. I have been named executor, but I do not want to serve. Can I get out of it?
7. What must I do if I am named executor?
8. Can the Register of Wills guide me through estate administration, or must I seek legal counsel?
9. What is a short certificate?
10. How do I know how much I have to pay in taxes? When do I have to pay them?