When putting together a will, it is considered good practice to include the name of an executor. This named person is the one who will be in charge of carrying out key functions, such as distributing assets to beneficiaries and taking care of any financial obligations, such as paying taxes or bills tied to the estate.
The "Will Executor Duties FAQ" gives a basic overview of what an executor is and what their roles and responsibility are. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list though. An attorney will be better situated to answer all of your will executor questions.
Normally, an executor is someone who is close to the deceased, such as a spouse or adult child. However, please note that the executor does not need to be family. In all reality, an executor does not even need to be named. Many do decide to name an executor in their will though, for without anyone named, the court will appoint someone.
If you are someone who was named as an executor, know your duties are dependent on the specifics of a person's estate. If there are complex property issues, tax concerns or other types of disputes, you will want to consult with an attorney. The probate process in Pennsylvania can also be quite complex, which again, is where legal representation can help.
If you were someone who was named as an executor, but you do not want to take on the responsibility, know that you do not have to. If you decline, the alternative executor will take over. If an alternative is not named in the will though, the court will appoint someone.
Again, this information is intended to be a mere overview of what it means to be an executor. For more specific questions or concerns, you will want to speak with a probate attorney.