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Duties of executors

Pennsylvania residents who are chosen as an executor under a decedent's will are required to act in a fiduciary capacity. They should be aware of their duties and must take several steps to distribute the assets in the manner dictated by the testator.

Having a complete understanding of the will is important for these fiduciaries. They have to know who have been chosen as beneficiaries as well as which assets are to be distributed and when. Executors should also know what their fiduciary powers are and if there are any other co-fiduciaries that they should be aware of. They will be required to perform a variety of tasks related to administering the estate.

It is necessary for a fiduciary to account for all of a decedent's assets as soon as possible. There may be different requirements for accessing different types of assets. For example, property like brokerage accounts may be accessed by submitting a death certificate and letters testamentary. A claim may have to be filed in order to get access to insurance policies. For tangible assets, such as jewelry, vehicles, furniture, collectibles and artwork, a fiduciary should have the items assessed by a professional. Knowing the actual value of the decedent's assets can help with the state or federal estate tax returns that will have to be filed. It can also help the executor determine if the current insurance coverage for the assets is sufficient.

Executors are not expected to be financial or legal professionals, but they have to be competent and trustworthy. When they need assistance, they may want to meet with an attorney who has experience with these types of estate administration matters.

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