The death of a family member in Pennsylvania or anywhere else involves grief for the survivors. However, as the executor of the decedent's estate, you are responsible for many administrative details. Larger estates with complex assets can impose significant paperwork burdens on an executor. You will need to navigate many details surrounding the payment of debts, tax filings and asset transfers.
Choosing a probate court
A will needs to be filed with a probate court. Typically, you file the will with the probate court within the county where the person lived at the time of death. Someone who died while living out of state or in a different county than where the decedent's real estate was located might need the will filed in the county where the real estate is.
An estate must pay off its debts, including credit card bills, home loans and personal loans. You will need to determine the value of an estate's assets so that you know what funds are available to pay debts. This step alone could be time consuming as you try to track down assets and get them appraised. You will also place a Notice to Creditors in a local news publication to give creditors a chance to make a claim against the estate during probate.
You will need to complete an income tax return for the last year that the person was alive. Very large estates may also have estate tax obligations that must be paid on time.
Notifying and paying heirs
As the executor, you will inform beneficiaries that they were named in the will. Transferring real estate to heirs or selling it first will take up more of your time than simple cash transfers.
While closing out an estate, you could encounter some surprises. Following the law is important for avoiding disputes and ensuring that all creditors and heirs receive their payments. You may want to learn more about how legal advice and estate administration services might reduce your workload and prevent costly delays.