One of the first steps that you should take as the executor of a New Jersey resident’s estate is to probate the testator’s will. This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of your responsibilities though. There are several other steps that you should handle as part of the estate administration process.
You’ll want to take immediate possession of any of the testator’s personal property. It’s around this same time that you’ll need to open an account for the estate as well.
If you’re wondering what’s meant by taking possession of the decedent’s personal property, it involves you taking the necessary precautions to make sure that it doesn’t get occupied or taken by a potential heir. It also means that you do whatever possible to help preserve its value. You may want to take out insurance coverage on real estate or automobiles to make sure that its value is preserved.
It’s also your responsibility to determine the value of any assets belonging to the estate. You may need to have an appraisal performed to help you determine an item’s worth.
You should determine if the estate has any debtors. If you determine that it does, then it’s your responsibility to collect from them.
The onus also falls on you as the executor to field estate claims. It’s your responsibility to pay any of the ones that you deem to be valid. You may even need to sell off some of the estate’s assets to pay these claims or the taxes or administrative costs that the estate may owe.
You must check real estate records to see if there are any delinquent taxes before considering distributing assets to any heirs. You’ll also want to make sure to determine what interest rates have accrued on mortgages and bonds since the testator’s death and pay off any inheritance or estate taxes that are due.
You’ll need to file both a final state and federal tax return on behalf of the testator before a final accounting of assets and distribution of them can be made to heirs. If you fail to take these steps, then you could be held liable for covering these costs yourself. An attorney can guide you through your responsibilities as executor so that you don’t expose yourself to unnecessary legal liability in your Bridgewater case.