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The Role of the Estate Executor

Adams, Cassese & Papp L.L.C.  Dec. 29, 2022

Wealth management concept, business man and team analyzing financial statement for planning .Executors play a significant role in settling a deceased person's estate and final affairs. When a person dies in New Jersey, the probate court will appoint an executor to administer the deceased person's estate, gather assets, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets to rightful beneficiaries according to the decedent's wishes or applicable state laws. 

At Adams, Cassese & Papp L.L.C., I've devoted my career to offering personalized legal counsel and reliable advocacy to clients in estate planning, probate, and estate administration-related matters. As a practiced New Jersey estate planning attorney, I will tell you about your duties, responsibility, rights, and limitations as an executor of a deceased loved one's estate. My firm proudly serves clients across Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, Edison, and Sayreville, New Jersey. 

What Is an Executor? 

An executor – or administrator – is a person appointed by the probate court to administer a deceased person's estate, gather and evaluate the estate's assets, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets according to the decedent's wishes (provisions of the will) or New Jersey's intestate succession laws. 

What Is the Role of an Estate Executor?  

Here are some of the duties and responsibilities of an executor once appointed: 

  • Collect and evaluate the decedent's assets, property, finances, and debts 

  • Gather all the deceased person's important documents 

  • File the deceased person's will or estate plan with the probate court

  • Inform the beneficiaries and heirs, creditors, and other interested parties about the probate proceedings

  • Recover all money owed to the estate, including interests and rents

  • Settle known creditor claims, debts, and taxes 

  • Administer the deceased person's estate 

  • File estate taxes and final tax returns

  • Transfer the remaining estate assets to heirs and beneficiaries

Generally, executors are required to follow all applicable state statutes and rules during estate settlement. In addition, you must perform your responsibilities justly, ethically, and in the best interests of the deceased person and beneficiaries. 

Who Can Serve as an Executor in New Jersey?  

Though, there are no specific requirements for serving as an executor in New Jersey. Nonetheless, the person must: 

  • Be an adult (at least 18 years)

  • Be a U.S. citizen

  • Be of sound mind

  • Be suitable to serve

  • Also, there must be no indication that they acquired the role through misconduct or fraud

In addition, a person appointed as an executor of a deceased person's estate must be honest, trustworthy, accountable, and willing to serve. If the executor is considered unfit, incompetent, or dishonest, the beneficiaries may have a reason to remove or replace them. 

Grounds for Removal of the Executor  

Here are some valid grounds or reasons to remove an executor under New Jersey law: 

  • Breach of fiduciary duty 

  • Misappropriation or embezzlement of funds

  • Undue influence or pressure

  • Failure to comply with the provisions of a will or trust

  • Self-dealing 

  • Conflict of interests 

  • Failure to act according to the beneficiary's best interests 

  • Neglect or mismanagement of estate assets

  • Failure to keep accurate records

  • Failure to cooperate with a beneficiary or interested party

  • Excessive expenses and fees

  • The executor is considered unfit

  • Any other cause provided by statute

If you have been appointed as an executor, you need to speak with a practiced estate planning attorney immediately. Your lawyer can educate you about your roles, responsibility, and the compensation that may be available to you. 

Compensation for Executors

Acting as an executor requires a considerable amount of effort and time. Due to this, New Jersey laws allow executors to be compensated with a specific percentage of the estate assets and income. Depending on the estate's gross value, an executor may be entitled to the following base compensation: 

  • 5.0% of the first $200,000

  • 3.5% of the next $800,000

  • 2.0% of anything more

In addition, the executor will be entitled to 6% of the income earned by the estate. A loyal New Jersey estate administration attorney can work diligently with you to settle the estate brilliantly and resolve any estate dispute or conflict amicably. 

Get Dependable Legal Assistance Today 

The death of a person can be an overwhelming period for their surviving loved ones and friends. If you have been appointed the executor of their estate, it is imperative that you understand your responsibilities and rights to enable you to act diligently and ethically. At Adams, Cassese & Papp L.L.C., I have the knowledge and expertise to advise and guide fiduciaries and executors through the complexities involved in probate and estate settlement. 

As your legal counsel, I can help you understand your duties as an executor and how to perform them. Also, I will help settle taxes and debts, manage court proceedings, help communicate with the other parties involved, and distribute remaining assets to rightful inheritors. I will craft a comprehensive checklist to assist and guide you through the probate and estate administration process from start to finish. 

Contact me at Adams, Cassese & Papp L.L.C. today to organize a simple consultation with a dependable estate planning attorney. I can offer you the highly-personalized guidance you need to execute your duties brilliantly and navigate key decisions during estate settlement. My firm proudly serves clients across Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, Edison, and Sayreville, New Jersey. 

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