Scotch Plains, New Jersey has a legal process known as "probate." This is when a court determines whether or not a will is valid, and, accordingly, whether or not to effectuate its provisions.
As part of the probate procedure, the court in Scotch Plains, New Jersey will decide the validity of the will, inventory the decedent's assets and debts, then, assuming everything is deemed to be in order, distribute the estate according to the will.
Typically, the executor of the estate is named in the will. However, if nobody is named as an executor, the probate court in Scotch Plains, New Jersey will assign an administrator to serve the role as the executor. This is typically the closest adult relative of the decedent, or the person who stands to inherit the most.
The executor is the person who has to get the ball rolling on the probate process, and basically serves as a living representation of the decedent's estate. It is their job to defend the estate from debtors (if a legitimate defense for the debt exists, of course), and wind up any legal proceedings that the decedent might have been engaged in. If an executor needs to be appointed, a court typically chooses the person who will inherit the most if the will is given effect, since that person will have the most incentive to carry out the duties of the executor.
Duties of the Executor in Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Executors of estates have a various distinct responsibilities. First, the executor must start the probate proceedings. Probate almost always needs to be finalized before the property in an estate can be released according to the terms of the will.
Executors must also alert anyone with an interest in the will of the death of the decedent. Persons with an interest in the outcome of probate are those who are named in the will, or anyone who would likely inherit if the will is invalidated (close relatives, for the most part).
The executor will also have to collect and make accessible a list of all of the decedent's debts and assets, as well as a list of those who stand to inherit from the decedent.
Moreover, the executor is obligated to take the lead in establishing the validity of the will, effectively acting as the living embodiment of the decedent's estate. The executor is typically the person who will inherit the most once the will goes through probate, so they have a good reason to put in the work to do this.
How Can A Scotch Plains, New Jersey Lawyer Help?
Because this process can be fairly confusing, it is not a bad idea to consult with a reliable probate lawyer in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, especially if you find yourself as the executor of an estate and don't know how to proceed.