Serving as executor means that you have to take responsibility for someone else’s possessions and legacy. It is an honor, as well as a job that could require weeks or even months of hard work on your part.

There are multiple obligations that an executor must fulfill. Understanding these duties can make the process of estate administration more straightforward and less fraught with stress or the potential for mistakes.

You will likely have to present documentation to the probate courts

Depending on the total value of the assets in the estate, you will likely need to file a copy of the last will of the deceased with the Pennsylvania probate courts. In some cases, they may demand to oversee some of the estate administration process. Generally speaking, copies of all estate planning documents and critical financial documents will be part of this process.

Secure assets to prevent theft or misappropriation

After someone dies, it’s possible for family members to try to take certain possessions from their property. Especially if no one currently has the legal right to reside in the residence, it’s important to secure real estate and all personal possessions by changing the locks and even moving assets to a different location if necessary.

Pay taxes and settle debts

Before you start handing out assets up to family members, you will first have to repay creditors owed money by the deceased. You will also need to prepare and file a final tax return on behalf of the deceased. Only once you have verified and covered all of their debts should you begin distributing assets. Mistakes during this process could lead to financial liabilities for you as the executor.

Follow instructions regarding the distribution of assets

In some cases, the testator will have left instructions to leave assets to certain people. If this is the case for the estate you manage, be sure to verify which assets they specifically wanted to bequeath to others before you liquidate anything to repay creditors. You will generally have to distribute physical assets and possibly liquidate other assets and distribute their value among beneficiaries of the estate.

Documenting each step and keeping records for how you distribute assets will help protect you and ensure that you handle the estate appropriately. Getting the right help can make all the difference during the estate administration process.