Estate administration refers to the process of organizing and properly distributing a decedent’s assets. This crucial undertaking requires executors, the people in charge of administration, to understand their powers and responsibilities.

The process of estate administration in Mount Laurel describes everything that executors do from the date of a decedent’s death to the time of the closing of the estate. Some of the steps include submitting a petition for probate, receiving an appointment as an executor, taking temporary possession of assets, paying creditors, and transferring assets to beneficiaries. Generally speaking, a representative must act reasonably when handling any of these sensitive matters.

Overseeing a decedent’s property might feel intimidating, but a knowledgeable trusts and estates attorney could provide you with the guidance that you need to serve as an impactful executor.

How to Open an Estate for Administration

The probate process begins when an eligible person submits a petition to open proceedings. In many cases, the person nominated as the executor in a will is the one who gathers information about the decedent, prepares a petition, and submits a copy of the will to the court. Doing so results in the probate court opening a case and appointing an executor. To finalize this appointment, the probate court will issue testamentary letters to the executor, giving them formal legal power to act on behalf of the estate.

If an executor has any remaining questions about how to open an estate for administration, a seasoned lawyer in Mount Laurel could elaborate on this first step.

The Most Crucial Steps of Estate Administration

Once an executor receives testamentary letters, they can move on to carry out the most important duties. Common necessary actions include:

  • Cataloging the estate’s physical property and financial assets
  • Informing beneficiaries and other interested parties about the beginning of probate
  • Opening bank accounts in the name of the estate
  • Identifying all creditors and assessing tax liability

It is important for people to know that executors have a legal duty to act only in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries. According to New Jersey Revised Statute § 3B:10-26, these representatives must act like any reasonable person would when dealing with the decedent’s property. A failure to do so, even during the preliminary steps, subjects an executor to personal liability for any reduction in the estate’s value.

A resourceful attorney in Mount Laurel could further outline these key stages of estate administration, to help an executor understand their many obligations.

Distributing Assets and Closing the Estate

After opening an estate and gathering assets, the next step is to distribute those assets to the beneficiaries that deserve them. One noteworthy aspect of this final stage is that the executor needs to pay any remaining estate or inheritance taxes.

Afterwards, the representative must pay any debts owed to creditors.  These lenders have a limited time after a decedent’s death to claim money from the estate. If their entitlement to collection is genuine, the executor must pay these creditors before redistributing assets to beneficiaries.

After completing all of these crucial actions, the executor can ask the court to close probate. When a personal representative properly tracks their own actions and keeps sufficient records, they can usually close an estate with minimal complications. A detail-oriented legal representative in Mount Laurel could help an executor successfully close a complicated estate or negotiate with stubborn creditors.

Contact an Attorney about Estate Administration in Mount Laurel

It is impossible to understate the role that executors play during the probate process. These people are the only ones who have the power to gather assets, pay creditors, and distribute property. They derive these duties from probate court orders but must also be sure to properly catalog their steps and treat the decedent’s assets with care.

A lawyer could be able to help if you recently learned that you need to take responsibility for estate administration in Mount Laurel. They could outline all the stages of the process and assist with resolving any complications. Reach out to the office today to schedule a consultation.