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The Important Role of Estate Executor

Posted May 1, 2016

Regardless of whether someone dies with a will or without one, someone will need to take on the job of collection and the distributing of the recently deceased person’s property. The law often refers to the deceased person as the “decedent”.  If the decedent left a will, it should designate who will be the charge. However, if there was no will, the court will appoint someone to be in charge of the estate. That person is call the “administrator”. Either way, the task of being an executor to an estate can be difficult.

The Role of an Executor/Administrator

The job of an executor and administrator is the same.  The executor agrees to protect a decedent’s property, pay off all debts and taxes associated with the property, and then to transfer the remaining property according to applicable law and the decedent’s wishes.

While the law does not require executors to have a legal or a financial background to do their job, those who do understand the process and have some familiarity with asset management will have an easier time of it.  Also, whose who seek guidance early on can avoid missing deadlines and other unintentional mistakes.

Typical Steps to Being an Estate Executor

These are two general methods of becoming the executor or the administrator of an estate:

  • File the will with the County Surrogate and notify interested parties about the death.
  • If there is no will, the process is a little more complex – depending on whether the next of kin agrees on who should do the job.
  • After the appointment, notify interested parties like credit card companies and banks. It is  important to do this right away to avoid later confusion.
  • Manage probate assets until they are distributed. This involves determining what the assets are, paying off any debt or tax obligations, and re-titling real estate or securities that are still in the name of the recently deceased.
  • Determine how assets must be distributed and supervise the transfer. If there was a will, this can be as easy as reading who gets what. However, if the person died without a will – intestate – then an administrator will have to determine how property will get distributed by looking to New Jersey intestacy law.

New Jersey Estate Attorneys Can Help

Being named the executor of an estate is no small matter. For many, it is an honor. For most, though, it can quickly turn into a headache. Call the law office of Foss, San Filippo & Milne at (732) 741-2525 or contact us online for help and insight on how to administer an estate properly, without stirring up an estate litigation situation.