Being selected as the executor of a loved one's estate is an honor, but it also comes with responsibilities. Even though the probate process in New Jersey is not as complex as the probate process is in other states, costly mistakes can be made by those who are unfamiliar with it.
For example, a deceased's will must be submitted to the surrogate in the deceased's county of residence. An inventory must be made of all the estate's assets, and creditors will be paid using these assets. Final taxes must be paid using estate assets, too. Also, a final accounting of the estate must be submitted so that the beneficiaries of the estate can approve or challenge these findings. Finally, the remaining assets of the estate will be distributed per the terms of the deceased's will or, absent a will, through the laws of intestate succession.
As this process shows, while New Jersey may not have the most complicated probate process in the nation, there are still many steps an executor must follow. This can be difficult if an executor has no experience with the probate process. Knowing how to properly perform these duties throughout the probate process is critical, though, as an executor could be held liable for mistakes made.
For these reasons, many executors choose to work with an attorney when it comes to estate administration and probate matters. At our firm we advise those who are responsible for administering an estate. We aim to make sure our clients understand what is expected of them as well as alleviate the burden placed on executors. The estate administration and probate section of our website may be a good starting point for those who want more information on this topic.