Estate Administration in Haddon Heights
What does administration involve?
Whenever someone passes away, their estate will need to be collected, managed and distributed: this process is broadly known as "estate administration." When someone dies with a will, then an executor will be named in the will to carry out these functions. When someone dies without a will (dying intestate), then the Surrogate Court will appoint an "administrator" to manage the estate.
While executors and administrators have different titles, their primary functions are the same: to settle the estate. In both cases the personal representative appointed by the court shall be duly qualified and legally appointed to perform the following functions:
- Collect the decedent's assets.
- Pay debts, claims and expenses against the estate.
- File final state and federal income tax returns on the decedent's behalf.
- Distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will, or if there was no will, distribute assets according to New Jersey's intestate succession laws.
Those individuals who are designated by the terms of a will or appointed by the Surrogate's Court to manage the assets and liabilities of an estate are responsible for the administration of the estate. Executors and administrators act as officers of the court since they derive their authority from court appointments.
Liability for Executors & Administrators
A personal representative (executor or administrator) has an important responsibility to conduct themselves in an honorable fashion. However, if even when acting in good faith the personal representative makes an honest mistake through the misunderstanding of the law or one of their duties and makes an error, they can be held personally liable and sued by the beneficiaries. Some common mistakes made by personal representatives include:
- Failing to properly secure assets and it results in a loss.
- Make poor investments which lose money.
- Failure to pay taxes which can make the representative personal liable for interest and penalties.
- Selling assets without authority to do so.
- Engage in actions that are a conflict of interest.
- Unnecessary delay of a settlement of the estate.
While it's an honor to be chosen as an executor of an estate or appointed as an administrator, keep in mind that estate administration is a large responsibility that should not be handled without legal assistance from a qualified Haddon Heights probate attorney.
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