When a person dies, a process known as "estate administration" must be carried out. This refers to all the processes which must be followed in distributing a person's estate to their heirs or devisees.
If the decedent wrote a will before his or her death in Delaware, New Jersey, the process will be carried out according to the directives included in the will, assuming they are legitimate and enforceable.
Often, the will appoints an executor whose job it is to oversee the administration of the will.
The executor is often the person who will get the most money or property out of the will if it is given effect, because this is the person who will have the greatest incentive to see that the probate process goes as rapidly as possible.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If a will in Delaware, New Jersey is silent as to who should be the executor, it is up to the court to determine who should serve in that capacity.
Usually, the person chosen to be executor is the one who would benefit most under the will, or under New Jersey's intestacy laws. "Intestacy" refers to a situation in which a person dies without a will, or "dies intestate." Every state has laws to address this situation, and there isn't a lot of variation from state to state. Usually, the decedent's property will go to his or her closest relative, and if absolutely no living relatives can be found, it will go to the state.
When a will is silent as to who should be the executor, any individual who has some direct interest in the result can ask to be named executor by the Delaware, New Jersey court.
Once an executor is assigned (whether by being named in the will, or on the application of another person), they "step into the shoes" of the estate, and are expected to safeguard its interests to the fullest extent possible. They further are obligated to accurately inventory the estate's debts and assets, as well as notify possible beneficiaries.
Can a Delaware, New Jersey Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you are the executor of an estate, and don't know how to handle some of the legal and financial complexities that may arise, an experienced Delaware, New Jersey lawyer can make this process a great deal easier.