For Estate Executors: Tips You Can Use

executor, wills, trusts, union county new jersey, estate planning
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For Estate Executors: Tips You Can Use

As the executor of an estate, you have an important legal duty ahead.  Know what you need to do—and what to avoid—as you carry out this challenging assignment.

You were chosen as the executor of an estate because someone trusted you to carry out their last wishes.  The decedent may be a family member, good friend, or business associate.  Winding up the affairs of another person is a labor of love and final responsibility.

Our estate planning attorneys work routinely with executors in New Jersey to help them understand the road ahead, and shoulder some of the inevitable burden of moving an estate to closure.  The fundamental tasks of administering an estate include the following:

  • File the Will with the court:  The Will of the deceased must be filed with the New Jersey probate court. This process gives you the authority to carry out your responsibilities.  As the executor, you work with financial officers and others with the same authority as the deceased.
  • Locate and administer the estate:  It is your job to identify and collect the assets of the estate.  Value could be held in real estate, financial accounts, valuable objects or collections, or an ongoing business. Expert appraisals may be needed. The decedent may have set up trust documents to allow policies, properties, and value to flow to beneficiaries outside the probate process.  Otherwise, distribute assets to named beneficiaries when the estate has settled.
  • Pay debt and taxes:  In addition to identifying assets, it is your duty to identify debt of the estate and prepare needed tax returns.  Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is wise to ensure mistakes, and misinterpretations of the Will, or the estate, do not occur that could reduce the value of the estate to beneficiaries.

 As you move through your estate administration duties, take note of these potential problem areas:

  • Using friends or families instead of professionals:  As the legal representative of the estate, you have the responsibility to account for actions you take and decisions you make.  Be sure to use qualified legal, financial, appraisal, and other specialists when you need advice and assistance with your duties.
  • Failing to maintain and protect property:  Real property owned in another city or location must be identified, maintained, and protected throughout the settling and closure of the estate.  Consider contacting a reputable property management company to oversee the property if it is not located near you.

If you are named as an executor, know your business—and know when to get experienced estate administration advice.  If you have any questions about your estate plan in New Jersey or New York, please feel free to call us at (908) 236-6457 or email

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