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Why you shouldn't rush to distribute assets after a testator dies

A testator's loved ones often come out of the woodworks en masse to stake claim to their loved ones' assets immediately following their death. You as the executor shouldn't give in though. It could be quite costly if you do.

Some of the assets that you may not want to distribute to heirs until you're about to wrap up the probate case is titled property. You'll instead want to check the deed to see whose name it's in. You'll then want to learn about New Jersey's property transfer laws and how to best get it to the heir in alignment with the testator's wishes.

You shouldn't transfer the property to the testator's heirs right away just because their will calls for that to happen. You should address any bequests and pay off creditors before doing so. You may find that you have to sell off the real estate to pay them.

Another type of asset that executors should steer clear of dividing up soon after an executor dies is cash, stocks and bonds. These should instead be placed in a bank account for the estate. These funds may ultimately have to be used by you as the executor to pay the testator's creditors, taxes and other end-of-life expenses.

Even when you do ultimately go to split up cash or other liquid types of assets, you should first ask the heirs about their preferences for how to receive those proceeds . You may want to inquire whether they prefer to receive stocks and bonds or cash before settling up with them.

It may be okay for you to conduct an early distribution of any of the estate's other assets such as untitled, tangible property, especially if it's of more sentimental or nominal value. You may want to steer clear from splitting up valuables such as jewelry or collectibles until the end of the probate case though.

While it can be a tremendous honor to be named as the executor of someone's estate, this role comes with many responsibilities. You can be held personally liable for a testator's lingering debts if you don't appropriately handle their assets. This is why you may benefit from being guided through this process by an estate administration attorney. Your lawyer can ensure that you expose yourself to as little financial liability as possible in your Bridgewater case.

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