Why does it take so long to settle a New Jersey probate case?

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2019 | Estate Administration |

It’s often not long after a family member dies that their loved ones begin clamoring to get a piece of what they feel that they’re due from it. While many heirs may think that they can simply walk into a decedent’s home and take what they feel is rightfully theirs, this is not the case. There are steps that an executor must take before this can happen. This is why it can take a while for a New Jersey a decedent’s assets to be distributed to their heirs.

Most beneficiaries wait on average six months for an estate to be settled. It’s during that time frame that all of a testator’s assets have to be inventoried and potentially appraised. An executor is also responsible for filing a decedent’s final tax return and for contacting and paying off their creditors. It’s only once all this has been done that a testator’s personal representative can finally distribute any remaining assets to any heirs.

An executor can make partial distributions of some assets before they file a testator’s final tax return or settle up with their creditors. The one downside to doing this is that it may result in the personal representative having to call back the distributions or having to dip into their pocket to pay any taxes or creditors that are owed money. This may only happen if an executor’s calculations are wrong.

Executors are expected to act expeditiously in administering a testator’s estate. Personal representatives must quickly inventory a decedent’s assets soon after they pass to make sure that nothing goes unaccounted for. Executors must also do whatever is in their power to preserve the value of such assets. Personal representatives are expected to advise the judge presiding over the probate case if certain assets go missing or are in peril of losing value while administering the case.

It can be daunting being appointed as executor of someone’s estate for the first time. It can be equally unnerving being asked to serve as a New Jersey testator’s personal representative if it’s been a while since you last held this role. Laws and court rules change every day. These updates may have an impact on what your responsibilities are. An estate administration attorney in Bridgewater can advise you of what the legal nuances are so that you remain in compliance with the most recent New Jersey laws.

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