When a person dies, a process known as "estate administration" must be carried out. This refers to all the procedures 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 Mercer County, New Jersey, the process will be carried out according to the directives contained in the will, assuming they are valid and enforceable.
Often, the will appoints an executor whose job it is to oversee the administration of the will.
The executor generally has at least some work cut out for them. This obviously raises the issue of compensation. The easiest way to ensure that the executor does his or her job is simply to appoint the person who has the most to gain from the will. That way, they cannot inherit until the process is completed.
What if The Will Does Not Name an Executor?
If a Mercer County, New Jersey will does not appoint anyone to serve as executor, or there is no will, the court has to choose someone to fill that role.
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.
If the will doesn't name a person who is to serve as executor, or the person named is no longer alive or cannot be found, anyone with a direct interest in the will can apply to the Mercer County, New Jersey court to be the executor.
Once an executor is appointed (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 protect its interests to the fullest extent possible. They also are required to accurately inventory the estate's debts and assets, as well as notify potential beneficiaries.
Can a Mercer County, New Jersey Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you are the administrator of an estate, and are not a legal and/or financial professional, you might encounter legal or tax issues with which you are unfamiliar. A Mercer County, New Jersey attorney would be very helpful in such a situation.