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The role and responsibility of an executor

In probate and estate administration, being the executor is a serious responsibility for Pittsburgh residents. An executor is the personal representative of the estate. It is the executor's responsibility to protect the decedent's assets, including the home, until probate is complete, and the assets are disbursed to the beneficiaries. Generally, an executor has just earned this title after the death of a loved one, which can be an emotionally difficult time. The added responsibility may be overwhelming without any knowledge of how to proceed, which is why it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced estate attorney.

Making the funeral arrangements often falls upon the executor's shoulders. The funeral home will also provide the death certificate that is needed to open the estate as well as to collect assets from financial institutions and to deal with governmental agencies.

An executor should know the location of the will and should work with the estate attorney to file it along with a death certificate with the Register of Wills in the county where the decedent resided as soon as practically possible. If the estate goes through probate, then the executor must be sworn in and have Letters Testamentary granted. Short certificates will be issued to prove that the executor has legal authority to act on the behalf of the estate to collect assets and information about debts.

There are a number of other responsibilities that an executor should be performing as part of the probate and estate administration process, such as notifying beneficiaries and creditors. The process of becoming an executor and performing these duties can be complex and overwhelming, which is why it is helpful to consult with an experienced estate attorney.

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