Preparing to be an executor of an estate

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2020 | Probate And Estate Administration |

Being an executor of an estate is more than having a title and involves lots of time, patience, and the ability to uncover assets and information. Even though it is difficult to refuse the request, executors should know and prepare for their estate administration duties.


Being an executor is time-consuming. It can include telephone calls, recording financial information at the courthouse, sending out correspondence and other tasks. Information may be needed from banks, mortgage service providers, investment firms, life insurance companies and any other entity that played a part in the decedent’s holdings.

Sorting through and placing values on years of accumulated property at the deceased person’s home may be another time-consuming, tedious, and demanding task. Trying to fairly and correctly allocate this property to family members makes this duty even more difficult.


Executors must have strong organization skills and know how to look for information. A person is unqualified if they cannot balance their checkbook, has their own financial problems, cannot organize financial information, or lacks attention to detail.


It is important for executors to stay calm as they deal with many legal and financial matters. They must also try to be fair to family members. Executors should openly settle affairs openly to maintain tranquility and create trust.


Pennsylvania has laws governing an executor’s responsibilities and when they should undertake their duties. These typically include paying funeral expenses, publishing death notifications and filing estate taxes, among other things.

Executors may seek legal assistance because they are personally liable for the estate’s proper administration. The IRS may hold executors accountable if they misrepresent the value of assets. If heirs do not receive the proper allocation of assets, an executor may have to reimburse them or pay fines.


Being an executor may require travel and time loss from work. Personal time may also have value.

Executors may be entitled to take a percentage of the estate’s value which is often contained in the will. Otherwise, fees can be what is reasonable and just under the circumstances. This can lead to conflict with heirs who may be unaware for the time that the executor expended.

An attorney can help executors perform their duties. Heirs can also seek legal representation to assure that the estate is being handled properly.