A loved one left you in charge of overseeing her or his estate. You do not mind accepting the role, but do you know your responsibilities to the estate’s heirs?
SmartAsset breaks down what executors owe beneficiaries. Learn how to act in the estate’s most favorable interests while carrying out your duties.
Timely asset distribution
You must ensure you distribute estate assets to beneficiaries promptly. States have different definitions of “promptly,” so research New Jersey’s timeframe. This keeps the process from slowing to a standstill because the executor stops tending to her or his obligations.
Beneficiary status notification
As an estate executor, you must contact the deceased’s beneficiaries to let them know they stand to inherit assets. Inform beneficiaries sooner rather than later, so they may contest the will’s contents if they want to. To reduce confusion and ambiguity, send notices to beneficiaries in writing. Once beneficiaries learn of their status, they may access information about the estate’s assets, estate debt and your plan for navigating the debt.
Fair inheritance distribution
Some tasks fall outside an executor’s responsibilities. For instance, you do not have to distribute assets the moment you notify heirs of their status. You may first need to clear the estate’s debts or allow creditors the chance to make claims against the estate. Tending to these tasks could take several months.
Executors deserve to know the full scope of their responsibilities while tending to a friend or relative’s estate. That way, they know what steps to take to honor their loved one’s final wishes the way the person intended.