You have been named the executor of a personal estate in New Jersey.
What do you do next?
Acting as the executor of an estate is a big job. The duties of estate administration can add to the grief you experience if you are a spouse or close relative of the deceased. Knowing the steps to take can help you move through your responsibilities efficiently—and honor the last wishes of someone important to you.
In New Jersey, an executor or estate administrator takes charge of the estate, possessions, and obligations of another person when they pass away. In the best case, you were asked by your friend, loved one, or associate, to undertake these duties when they were preparing their estate planning documents, such as a Will. Now that they have passed on, they are called the decedent. If an individual passes away without a will the Surrogate court will appoint an estate administrator to perform the tasks that an executor usually performs.
Consider these three key points about estate administration in New Jersey:
- What does this job really mean?
As executor, you become the personal representative for the deceased. You will inventory and locate property, assets, debt and creditors. You will pay bills, and are responsible for an accounting. Because of this, part of your work will involve investigation. When there is property, financial, and other assets, you will preserve and protect those assets for the beneficiaries of the Will. When all assets are claimed and disbursed, and last bills and taxes are paid—you will close the estate. In New Jersey, you are eligible for payment from the estate for your efforts. Closing an estate can sometimes take more than a year to complete.
- How do I get started?
When you are called on as executor, one of your first steps will be to locate the current Will of the deceased, obtain an original certificate of death, and present the documents to the Surrogate Court in the county where the deceased resided. After a waiting period of approximately ten days, you are issued documents legally appointing you as executor.
As an executor, you are a fiduciary, someone who operates at a high level of trust on behalf of the deceased and their beneficiaries. Many executors wonder if they need to retain an estate attorney. In New Jersey, there is no requirement to retain an estate administration attorney—but if the estate is has a property, assets that need to be appraised or if there is potential for serious disagreement among beneficiaries, it is a good idea. Experienced legal counsel guides you through the process, offers advice and service when needed, and protects you from claims against the estate.
- What is the best way to get started?
Acting as executor, you make decisions and oversee processes that involve legal, accounting, and estate work. Once the Will is probated, you are underway. A simplified checklist looks like this:
– Coordinate with Surrogate Court and authenticate authority to act as executor.
– Identify debt and assets.
– Obtain valuation of all assets including real property, financial accounts, expensive collections, and jewelry.
– Distribute a notice of the Will to parties of interest.
– Communicate with beneficiaries on matters as needed.
– Create, check, and file appropriate tax accountings and returns.
– Pay bills.
– Distribute property, assets, and bequests to beneficiaries.
– Prepare needed tax and administrative documents to close estate.
In New Jersey, there are ways to make the tasks of estate administration easier and more profitable for beneficiaries.
Asset searches and estate inventory and management can be arduous, time-consuming tasks. Companies like ours remove much of the hassle by providing professional, high-quality services ranging from asset valuation, estate inventory, property maintenance, and house clean-out—along with experienced counsel on legal and accounting matters.
Acting as an estate executor in New Jersey is an important job—and a labor of love. Whether you need end-to-end help with an estate or referral to a certified appraiser—we offer cost-effective, skilled service to help you sort through the details and your fiduciary duties.
If you have questions for estate attorneys or estate administration professionals in New Jersey, we have answers.
Contact us today.