Stratford, New Jersey has a legal process known as "probate." This is when a court determines whether or not a will is legitimate, and, accordingly, whether or not to effectuate its provisions.
As part of the probate procedure, the court in Stratford, 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.
Usually, the executor of the estate is named in the will. However, if nobody is named as an executor, the probate court in Stratford, New Jersey will assign an administrator to serve the role as the executor. This is usually 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 involved in. If an executor needs to be appointed, a court usually chooses the person who will inherit the most if the will is given effect, since that person will have the most motivation to carry out the duties of the executor.
Duties of the Executor in Stratford, New Jersey
Executors of estates have a several 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.
They also are obligated to provide notice to the people with a direct interest in the estate that the decedent has died, usually by filing a death certificate.
There may be various people who are entitled to take under a testator's will, with which the testator may have fallout out of touch years ago. This can make them difficult to find, but they need to be found, nonetheless. To that end, the executor is required to make a list of everyone who might be able to inherit, whether they're named in the will, or closely related to the testator. Furthermore, they have to make known all of the decedent's major assets and debts.
Furthermore, the executor is required to take a leading role in proving the validity of the will. The executor obviously has an incentive to see the process through, since they cannot inherit until probate is complete.
How Can A Stratford, New Jersey Lawyer Help?
Because of the complexities involved in probate, it would be smart to hire a reputable Stratford, New Jersey probate lawyer, especially if you are the executor of an estate and unsure how to proceed.