It is always difficult after a loved one passes away. Not only can it be emotionally difficult it can also be challenging to administer the estate the loved one has left behind. Even with proper estate planning preparations estate administration can be confusing for those who are not familiar with the process in New Jersey or in any other state.
After a loved one has died the first thing to do is to locate the decedent's will. This legal document will name the executor, who is in charge of handling the distribution of the decedent's assets. The executor could be an individual person or an institution or even a law firm. The process of administering the estate is known as the probate process.
If no will is available, one may be able to find a trust document which can also instruct on how to distribute the decedent's assets. However, if neither a will nor a trust is discovered state laws will determine how to divide the assets in the estate. The court will then appoint an administrator to handle the estate administration process.
This can be a problem in many instances in New Jersey when unintended heirs receive assets as a result of failure to do estate planning. Also, since nobody can predict when something tragic is about to happen, it is never too early to start making preparations. However, when attempting to plan an estate it is important to research all of the relevant laws in order to ensure the estate planning documents are drafted properly.
Source: The Herald Dispatch, "Estate planning is crucial after a loved one has passed," June 25, 2013