By Daniel B. Evans
Copyright © 1995-2000 Daniel B. Evans. All rights reserved.
The following is a general description of the steps, and the timing of the steps, usually needed for the administration of an estate in Pennsylvania. (Many of the procedures and deadlines described below would apply in other states as well.)
General Duties The general duties of an executor or administrator of an estate are to:
Collect the assets of the estate;
Pay debts and taxes owed by the decedent or the estate; and
Distribute the estate in accordance with the will (or, if there is no will, in accordance with the laws of intestacy).
Initial Tasks Shortly after death, it is usually necessary to:
Arrange for the funeral (if there is no surviving husband or wife, children, or other next of kin).
If there is an unoccupied residence, make sure that it and any valuables in or around it are secure.
Within Three Months of Death
Notify banks, employers, insurance companies, stock brokers, and others of the death, and begin identifying assets and liabilities of the decedent. (See separate checklist on information to be collected.)
If appropriate, arrange for the decedent's mail to be forwarded.
Advertise the grant of letters by the Register of Wills.
Make advance payment of Pennsylvania inheritance tax (for discount).
Within Six Months of Death
Estimate cash needed to pay debts and taxes, and plan for any sales of assets needed to distribute estate.
Prepare and file inventory of estate with Register of Wills.
Within Nine Months of Death
Prepare and file Pennsylvania inheritance tax return.
Prepare and file federal estate tax return (if needed).
Prepare and file any other death tax returns needed for property located in other states.
Prepare and file decedent's final lifetime income tax returns, federal and state (due April 15 of year following death).
During the administration of an estate, federal and state income tax returns must be filed showing the income and expenses of the estate.
Distribution of Estate The distribution of assets from the estate can begin at any time, but is usually concluded after the death taxes have been settled. Depending on the circumstances, distributions can be carried out:
After an accounting has been filed in court and approved by the court;
After an accounting and schedule of distribution has been approved by all beneficiaries; or
By receipt and release from each beneficiary.
Final Filings Once the administration of an estate has been completed and the assets have been distributed:
Final federal and state income tax returns may be filed.
Notice should be given to the Register of Wills through a status report.
Evans Law Office
Daniel B. Evans, Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 27370
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Telephone: (866) 348-4250