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Steps for an estate executor

People in Pennsylvania who have been appointed executor of an estate might wonder what their duties are. The job of an executor is to locate the will and any other relevant estate planning documents, locate and protect assets, pay creditors and taxes, and distribute assets to beneficiaries. This is a significant responsibility, and an executor may want to work with an attorney throughout the process.

The will may be located with an attorney, in the decedent's files or in a safe deposit box. An executor will also need to order multiple copies of the death certificate. Credit cards should be cancelled and institutions notified about the person's death.

The will must be submitted for probate and the executor issued what are called "letters testamentary" to be recognized as executor by the court. The job of locating and securing assets may be a complicated and time-consuming one if the estate is complex or the decedent was not well organized. Probate may take several months, and creditors must be paid before beneficiaries can receive their inheritances. The executor must also file taxes for the estate. Executors should track their expenses carefully since these can be reimbursed.

Despite the responsibilities involved, the executor is not expected to be a legal or financial expert. The executor will be held responsible if the estate is mismanaged, but in addition to an attorney, an executor can hire other professionals if needed. There could be additional complications if there is a challenge to the will although most estate plans pass through probate without challenges.

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