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Responsibilities of being a trustee in Pennsylvania

Philadelphia residents who have been named as trustee in a parent's will may wonder what their responsibilities entail. The successor trustee's powers and authority vary slightly from state to state. Though most trustees don't assume their authority until the settlor has passed away, severe disability may necessitate a trustee taking their position while the settlor is still alive.

In Pennsylvania, a successor trustee must show evidence of authority to act as a trustee with a death certificate of the settlor or a notarized letter from a doctor that says the settlor is incapacitated and unable to handle affairs on their own. These documents must be filed promptly. When it comes to obtaining assets, the trustee must also show estate planning documents, such as the certificate of trust, a living will or power of attorney.

The trustee is responsible for handling the affairs of the estate according to the living will or will. All of the beneficiaries named in the will must receive a notice. The trustee also ensures that any outstanding debts are handled or paid. Other duties in administering the trust may include selling a home, overseeing the division of assets, liquidating other assets and removing money from bank accounts.

Estates that don't have a will or living will are considered intestate. This means that the state assigns an executor, and the assets are divided according to the laws of the state. This may result in a different division of assets than what the estate holder intended. An estate planning lawyer may be able to help. For example, a lawyer might look over the estate and write a certificate of trust that names a trustee of the settlor's choosing. The trustee will then divide the assets according to the wishes of the settlor.

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