Executor Of A Will – Duties And Responsibilities
At some point in time, you may be asked to serve as the executor of the estate of a relative or friend, or you may ask someone to serve as your executor. An executor’s job comes with many legal obligations.
In General. The executor’s job is to (1) administer the estate, i.e., collect and manage assets, file tax returns and pay taxes and debts and (2) distribute any assets or make any distributions of bequests, whether personal or charitable in nature, as the deceased directed under provisions of the will.
Step 1: Probate. The executor must “probate” the will. Probate is a process by which the Surrogate court of New Jersey reviews and approves a will and determines if a will was validly executed under New Jersey law. If approved, the court gives the executor the power to perform his or her duties under the provisions of the will.
Step 2: Manage the Estate. The executor takes legal title to the assets in the probate estate. The assets of the estate must be found and may have to be collected. Accordingly, while living, it is important for you to place all important papers, such as your will, life insurance policy, asset information, bank account information etc., in a secure location, such as a home safe. Do not place the documents into a bank vault since your executor may not have immediate access.
Step 3: Take Care of Tax Matters. The executor is legally responsible for filing necessary income and estate tax returns (federal and New Jersey) and for paying estate and inheritance taxes. The deceased’s final federal and state income tax return will need to be filed. In many instances, federal estate tax returns are not needed as the size of the estate will be under the amount for which a federal estate tax return is required (currently 5 million dollars for federal and $675,000 for the State of New Jersey). A tax identification number should be obtained for the estate. The executor should also file a written notice with the IRS that he/she is serving as the fiduciary of the estate. This gives the executor the authority to deal with the IRS on the estate’s behalf.
Step 4: Pay the Debts. The claims of the estate’s creditors must be paid.
Step 5: Distribute the Assets. After all debts and expenses have been paid, the executor must distribute the assets pursuant to the terms of the will.
Guberman, Benson & Calise is available to assist the executor relating to estates of all sizes. Stacy and Barry are happy to assist you with your probate needs. Also, Barry had prior experience as a Tax Attorney for the IRS; had worked for one of the “top four” accounting firms; has obtained an LL.M. (Masters of Legal Letters) in Taxation, and is available to discuss your Estate or Executor concerns. Contact us today to discuss the duties of an Executor.