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March 23, 2020

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.

General Duties – The general duties of an Executor or Administrator of an estate are to:

1. Collect the assets of the estate;

2. Pay debts and taxes owed by the decedent or the estate; and

3. 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:

1. Arrange for the funeral (if there is no surviving husband or wife, children, or other next of kin).

2. If there is an unoccupied residence, make sure that it and any valuables in or around it are secure and that applicable insurance is in place for a vacant residence.

3. Arrange for the probate of the Will (or the grant of letters of administration if there is no Will) with the Register of Wills.

Within Three Months of Death

1. Notify banks, employers, insurance companies, stock brokers, and others of the death, and begin identifying assets and liabilities of the decedent.

2. If appropriate, arrange for the decedent’s mail to be forwarded.

3. Advertise the grant of letters by the Register of Wills.

4. Send required written notices to beneficiaries under Will and to heirs at law, with certification to the Register of Wills.

5. Make advance payment of Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax (for discount). The discount date is ninety (90) days from date of death.

Within Six Months of Death

1. Estimate cash needed to pay debts and taxes, and plan for any sale of assets needed to distribute estate.

2. Prepare and file Inventory of estate with Register of Will

Within Nine Months of Death

1. Prepare and file Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return and Inventory. The due date is nine (9) months from date of death.

2. Prepare and file federal estate tax return (if needed).

3. Prepare and file any other death tax returns needed for property located in other states.

Other Tasks

1. Prepare and file decedent’s final lifetime income tax returns, federal and state (due April 15 of year following death).

2. 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 anytime, but is usually concluded after the death taxes have been settled. Depending on the circumstances, distributions can be carried out:

1. After an accounting has been filed in court and approved by the court;

2. After an accounting and schedule of distribution has been approved by all beneficiaries; or

3. By receipt and release from each beneficiary.

Final Filings – Once the administration of an estate has been completed and the assets have been distributed:

1. Final federal and state income tax returns may be filed.

2. Notice should be given to the Register of Wills through a Status Report.