Administering an estate means many responsibilities for executors

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Administering An Estate Means Many Responsibilities For Executors

Accepting the role of estate executor is a serious responsibility. Many people take numerous aspects into consideration before they choose an executor, and a loved one may have approached you to take on the position. Though you understood the importance of the decision, you may not have fully known what actions you would have to perform when you agreed to become executor.

Administering an estate requires that the executor follows certain legal steps and attends to the deceased’s final wishes as necessary. These actions may seem straightforward, but probate and estate administration proceedings can take a considerable amount of time and effort. If any disputes arise, the process can go on for even longer. In order to prepare to act as executor, you may wish to understand the following duties.

Locating the will

In order for the probate process to begin, you must present the original will to the court. Therefore, you must know where that document is and have it in your possession before you can move forward with the next steps of the process. Additionally, before beginning probate, you will need to ensure that your loved one’s assets remain protected until they can be properly addressed during the course of the estate administration. Some individuals may feel they have a claim to certain assets, but that may not be the case.

Filing the will

As mentioned, to begin probate, you will need to file the will with the court. Once the officials validate the document’s authenticity, the process can move forward. Because beginning probate and carrying out necessary administration duties can be complicated endeavors, you may also wish to consider obtaining legal assistance during this part of the process.

Administering the estate

During the administration process, you may need to gather assets, determine what items to sell or keep, pay creditors and handle various other financial-related duties. At this time, you may also have to attend to any legal issues, such as estate disputes, that may arise. Any time a complication arises during probate, the executor must take the necessary steps to handle the issue. It may also prove wise to remember that you hold liability for any financial errors that may occur relating to the estate.

Distributing assets

Once the previously mentioned steps are completed, you can move on to distributing assets to beneficiaries. However, the beneficiaries must first validate that you performed your duties as executor properly. Once you have received this validation, distributed assets and paid yourself from the remaining estate funds, you can file the necessary paperwork with the court to legally close the estate.

Because probate proceedings can be time consuming and complicated, you may wish to gain additional information about your duties from local New Jersey legal resources.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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