The duties of a will executor

People in New Jersey who have been appointed executor of a will or who have been asked by a loved one to act as executor might wonder what responsibilities are involved. An executor's job involves locating assets, paying bills and distributing assets to beneficiaries based on a person's will.

Although executors can be paid for their services, those who are close family members, such as a spouse, a child or a parent, usually do not request compensation. However, the executor may use money from the estate for paying creditors and expenses such as the upkeep of a home. The executor might also need to pay taxes on the estate and make court appearances dealing with the estate. If the executor is paid as well, a probate court will decide on the amount based on state law and the complexity of the role.

A person appointed as executor is not required to step into the role, and the executor may also step down at any time. Naming alternative executors means that if this happens, there will be other people to take on the responsibilities rather than having a court-appointed executor. Although the role does not require legal expertise, an executor might want to work with an attorney during the probate process. If the estate is complex or there are family conflicts, an attorney may be particularly helpful.

A person who has been appointed as executor might feel overwhelmed by the tasks, but an attorney may be able to advise the person regarding the steps. It may also help for a person appointed as executor to discuss the responsibility with the loved one and with beneficiaries while that person is still alive. This may help ensure that the executor fully understands the loved one's wishes and may reduce the likelihood of challenges to the will or other conflicts.

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