estate planning lawyer

Probate and Estate Administation  

As an executor, you must fulfill many roles to help settle a deceased person’s estate. It may be easier to do so with the help of legal counsel.

How Does the Probate Process Operate?

In the state of New Jersey, if a person has more than $20,000 in assets when he or she passes, that individual’s estate may need to go through probate. During this process, a person or entity must be appointed to represent the estate. This designee is generally referred to as the executor.

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How Do Lawyers Aid Executors?

In New Jersey, the executor has many different tasks to accomplish. For example, it may be necessary for someone acting in that capacity to take inventory of a deceased individual’s possessions and distribute them to the beneficiaries. It may also be necessary to file tax returns and evaluate creditor claims. If there is not enough money in the estate to pay all claims, a judge will prioritize them. If you are an executor, you should be aware that there is generally no need for you to pay any creditor personally unless you were a party to the loan.

A New Jersey probate lawyer may be able to work with you to make sure that assets are properly inventoried and distributed. The attorney will also be able to check and see that the death was properly publicized so that interested parties have an opportunity to challenge the will if they desire. Finally, a Middlesex County probate lawyer should be able to answer any questions that arise as the case progresses.

Probate Can Take Months or Years to Complete

It is not uncommon for completion of probate to take anywhere from nine months to a year and a half. This is because there may be a period of several weeks or months in which creditors and others are given the chance to file claims. It might also take several weeks or months to complete and file tax returns. Even if an estate plan is clear on who the intended executor of the estate is to be, it could take several days or several weeks for a court to officially appoint that person or entity.

Therefore, handling requests from the court or from outside parties could require the executor to spend many nights and weekends away from family members. In some cases, it might be necessary to take time off from work in an effort to fulfill these duties. If you find yourself in this position, working with a New Jersey probate attorney could help you stay organized, and in some cases, the attorney would actually be able to work with the court to resolve a matter.

 

No One Expects You to Be a Legal Expert

If you are an executor, it is important to understand that you won’t be expected to develop legal expertise or even to fully comprehend probate law. In fact, the judge will probably expect you to make minor errors as the matter unfolds. However, by working with a New Jersey probate attorney, you can avoid making mistakes that could lead to personal liability in a probate case. For instance, an attorney may advise you not to use your own funds to pay off the estate’s bills.

Instead, a bank account should be opened in the estate’s name, and money should be deposited there. This makes it easier to account for how the estate’s assets are handled and to ensure that decisions are made in the estate’s best interest. In many cases, relying on the advice of counsel can be an effective defense if you make an error in a probate matter.

 

How You Can Make Your Executor’s Task Easier?

At some point, you will pass on, and you may need someone to represent your interests in probate court. A New Jersey estate planning lawyer can assist you in taking steps organize your estate. It is also very helpful to keep your important documents in one spot where they can all be easily located. If you don’t have any friends or family who can assume this burden, a Middlesex County estate planning attorney would even be able to act as your executor.

If you have been named the executor of an estate or you need estate planning advice, contact Jason Alguram at the Alguram Law Group today by calling (732) 351-2121.