When you create your will, one of the first tasks is to choose the person you wish to serve as your personal representative or “Executor” (if male) and “Executrix” (if female). This person (or business) will oversee the administration of your estate. If you do not pick one, or if the person you picked is not available for some reason, the probate court will appoint someone.
Whether they are named in a will or appointed by the probate court, personal representatives serve to fulfill the legal obligations imposed upon them under Pennsylvania law.
What restrictions does the law place on those who can serve?
Pennsylvania law imposes certain requirements for people or entities to be eligible to serve as a personal representative:
- They must be at least 18 years old.
- If a corporation, it must be authorized to act as a fiduciary in Pennsylvania.
- They must be a citizen or resident of the United States.
- They must not have been charged with homicide or voluntary manslaughter in connection with the death of the deceased.
The probate court also has the power to declare a personal representative candidate unfit for other reasons.
When must a personal representative file tax forms to the state?
Having satisfied these requirements, the personal representative must complete certain tax forms. Form PA-41, the Fiduciary Income Tax Return, applies to personal representatives in the following cases:
- A resident estate trust that received income or incurred a loss within the taxable year
- Non-resident estate that either received Pennsylvania-sourced income or incurred a Pennsylvania-sourced loss within the taxable year
- Non-resident estate with a Pennsylvania resident beneficiary if the estate or trust received income or incurred a loss within the tax year.
Think carefully about choosing your personal representative. Circumstances and people change. Attorneys who understand the considerations and factors beyond the legal requirements for personal representatives as part of an estate plan can help.