From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My father named me the Executor of his estate. I filed his will with the Register of Wills in Chester County, paid the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax, and took care of all his bills. There was very little money left for my sister and I, and I divided that between us. How do I now “Close the Estate”?
You will not find anything in the packet of information from the Chester County Register of Wills about how to “Close the Estate,” because it never really happens. The term refers to when the final assets of the estate are distributed, which normally means that the Executor has run out of things to do.
This should happen after the family settlement agreement is signed and filed with the Register. As Executor you continue to have all the powers and responsibilities, even after the assets are distributed. If you discover an asset years from now (such as a forgotten certificate of deposit or a deferred stock dividend), you, as the Executor, still have the power to claim that asset and distribute it to your sister and yourself. Or, if a creditor (say, the IRS) makes a future claim, you will be the one responsible to address the claim.
This is why it is very important that the Executor make sure that all claims are addressed before making final distribution of the Estate assets. Often, the Executor will keep a reserve fund, just in case something unexpected happens. This way you will have the money necessary to address a surprise creditor or to hire a Chester County Probate Lawyer to help you collect a discovered asset.
If you have any other questions about probate in Chester County, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation with one of our Probate Lawyers.