If you serve as the executor of a Pennsylvania will, you have to handle some serious responsibilities. However, while an executor's duties can seem complicated and weighty, approaching them with the right mindset can help you meet your responsibility properly.
If the testator selected you as the executor, he or she had faith in your abilities, honesty and motivation to fulfill his or her wishes. Knowing some frequent errors to steer clear of can get you off to a good start as you begin the probate process.
Failing to get the right help
Executors often run into complicated situations. Whether you need to decide how to handle a complicated asset, are having trouble sorting out the title to a property or face litigation against the estate, you may end up with a problem you do not have an easy solution for. Knowing when to seek professional guidance can help you avoid potentially disastrous errors. An attorney, a business appraiser or an investment professional can give you the help you need.
Pennsylvania law sets forth a number of specific duties an executor must fulfill, including several that demand adherence to a timeline and meticulous paperwork. Working with an estate attorney can keep you from getting off-track and potentially failing in your duty to the estate.
Mishandling debts of the estate
One important task you have is handling the estate's debts. This starts with giving appropriate notice to creditors and paying valid debts from the estate. However, just because someone claims to be a creditor does not mean a valid debt exists; creditors must validate their claim as well as the specific amount. Paying an invalid claim could be a failure to safeguard the estate's interests.
Deviating from the terms of the will
Your duty is to distribute the estate according to the will's provisions. At times, these provisions may conflict with your feelings and beliefs. You may feel a particular provision is extremely unfair. However, deviating from the will for any reason could expose you to liability.