What Are the Duties Of a Personal Representative In Pennsylvania?

The main duties of a Pennsylvania personal representative include:

  • Marshalling and securing the estate assets
  • Administering the estate assets
  • Distributing the estate assets


A Pennsylvania Personal Representative Must Marshal the Estate Assets

One of the first duties upon becoming the personal representative of a Pennsylvania estate is to gather and secure the Decedent’s probate assets.  The personal representative must identify the decedent’s probate assets, such as bank accounts, real property, and personal property.

One way to locate a decedent’s assets is to review the decedent’s incoming mail.  This will often include bank statements, bills, and tax information.

Pursuant to 20 Pa. C.S. § 3311:

A personal representative shall have the right to and shall take possession of, maintain and administer all the real and personal estate of the decedent, except real estate occupied at the time of death by an heir or devisee with the consent of the decedent.  He shall collect the rents and income from each asset in his possession until it is sold or distributed, and, during the administration of the estate, shall have the right to maintain any action with respect to it and shall make all reasonable expenditures necessary to preserve it.  The court may direct the personal representative to take possession of, administer and maintain real estate so occupied by an heir or a devisee if this is necessary to protect the rights of claimants or other parties.  Nothing in this section shall affect the personal representative’s power to sell real estate occupied by an heir or devisee.

Preparation Of the Pennsylvania Estate Inventory

Once the decedent’s assets are identified, the Pennsylvania personal representative must gather them and identify them on the inventory of the estate.  The inventory must be filed no later than the date the account is filed or the due date for the filing of the inheritance tax return, whichever is earlier.  If the filing of the inventory is requested on an earlier date, then the inventory must be filed within three months after appointment of the personal representative or within 30 days after the request, whichever is later. See 20 Pa. C.S. § 3301(c).  See Deadlines And Timelines In Pennsylvania Probate for other key deadlines.

Duties Of the Personal Representative In Administering the Pennsylvania Estate

A personal representative is also responsible for identifying the decedent’s creditors, settling decedent’s final debts, and filing final tax returns.

One of the most important duties of the Pennsylvania personal representative is to publish notice of the administration of the estate, which starts the clock running for creditors to notify the estate of any claims.  To learn more about dealing with creditors, read Creditor Claims In Pennsylvania Probate.

Distributing the Assets

Once the Pennsylvania estate is fully administered, i.e., assets marshalled, debts paid, and administration expenses paid, the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs.  Under Pennsylvania law, certain distributive shares must be distributed along with interest income.  See 20 Pa. C.S. § 3543.

How Long Should Probate Take In Pennsylvania?

Probate will generally take from one to two years in Pennsylvania, but can be shorter or longer depending on the specific circumstances of the estate.  See How Long Does Probate Take In Pennsylvania?

The duties of a personal representative in Pennsylvania are not to be taken lightly.  Serving as a personal representative of a Pennsylvania estate is an important job, with duties owed to faithfully, loyally, and efficiently administer the decedent’s estate in the interests of the beneficiaries.