You are Named as Executor: What Next?
If you are named as executor in a New Jersey Will, what can you expect when the time comes to carry out your duties?
You were chosen to administer a Will because the deceased trusted you would handle details, carry through with asset distribution and close their estate as they wished. As the executor of an estate in New Jersey, you have a fiduciary duty to the estate, to the beneficiaries and to the deceased who gave you the authority to execute their final wishes.
Estate administration can be difficult, time consuming and involve legal questions. Consulting with an estate attorney at the outset of probating a Will provides a good view of your tasks and timeline ahead.
While the tasks associated with the closure of any estate vary with the estate plan, you can expect to perform duties that include:
- Gather documents to file a probate action in Surrogate Court. Documents include the Will, birth and death certificates.
- Identify and collect assets of the estate.
- Open an estate checking account for use in settling the estate. Transfer monies of the estate into the account.
- Notify all parties with a potential interest in the estate. This includes heirs, next-of-kin and others. All persons and entities must be notified of the probate within 60 days.
- Apply for insurance proceeds or other benefits due.
- Discover debt and other claims against the estate. Publish a notice for claims against the estate. Review and settle appropriate claims, bills and debt. Legally challenge inappropriate claims against the estate as needed.
- Compute and pay all appropriate taxes of the estate.
- Determine beneficiaries. Take appropriate action, as by selling assets, to ensure monetary bequests are made as directed.
- Distribute all assets as directed.
- Prepare an accounting of the settlement of the estate.
Estate administration can require use of an accountant or other specialists. Debts of the estate, including a search for child support judgments, must be handled prior to distribution of assets or bequests to beneficiaries.
For complex, contested or high asset estates, retaining an attorney to assist with administering the estate provides the valuable counsel and legal protection you need should the accounting of the estate be challenged.
When you have questions or need support with estate administration in Hunterdon County and Union County, New Jersey, seek experienced legal guidance.