Estate Administration

This page is intended to offer an overview of the Estate Administration Process for Executors and involved family members.

The loss of a loved one is often filled with grieving and family uncertainty.

As a result the future can look daunting and overwhelming.

What must be done next? By whom and when?

We can answer questions and help you navigate your duties and responsibilities, as the Executor, whether the estate is simple or complex.

If you would like to schedule a complimentary meeting to explore how we can assist you please call us at 609-291-8363.

We’re here for you every step of the way!


        Settling the Estate

The process of settling an estate in New Jersey is similar whether a person dies with or without a Will. A personal representative must go to the Surrogate's Court of the county in which the decedent resided to take charge of the estate.

If there is a Will, the Executor named in the Will is the personal representative. If there is no Will, the personal representative, usually a family member is called an Administrator. Under New Jersey law, if there is a surviving spouse then he or she is the first person in line to serve as Administrator, followed by children, grandchildren, parents and siblings. This may lead to family quarrels, as more than one person may have equal right to serve as Administrator. For example, all children of a decedent have an equal right to serve in this capacity and renunciations must be obtained from all those who will not be serving. This is yet another reason why it is always advisable to take the time to have a properly and professionally prepared Will.

The Surrogate must qualify the Administrator. While a Will may provide that no "surety bond" be required for the Executor, an Administrator may be required to purchase a surety bond. A surety bond is a financial arrangement in which the Executor or Administrator pays a fee to a company specializing in these arrangements which company then insures the heirs against certain wrongful acts of the Executor or Administrator. It is yet another way the Surrogate and State law endeavor to protect heirs. The cost of the bond premium, which can be hundreds of dollars, is determined by the size of the estate. The bond premium often costs more than the cost of having a Will prepared. The bond must remain in effect until the estate is settled. Providing that no bond is necessary ("waiving" the bond requirement) for an Executor is a major advantage to having a Will.

There are many good reasons to have a Will, including tax planning, sparing your personal representative the cost of a bond premium, and planning for a family member who is entitled to government benefits. The best reason for having a Will is the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that you have provided for your loved ones and that your planning will make the distribution of your estate a smoother, easier process for them.