What does an Executor Do?

An executor has a multitude of responsibilities. Some include submitting the will for probate, gathering and evaluating the estate assets, opening an estate checking account, paying debts, filing tax returns, and distributing the assets to beneficiaries. The first step is for the executor to submit a will for probate. You must submit the will to the county Surrogate where the deceased resided at the time of death. The Surrogate will issue Short Certificates, or Letters Testamentary, allowing for the executor to start the process and act on behalf of the estate.

The executor must gather and evaluate the assets, analyze debts owed by the estate, and notify the next of kin through the Notice of Probate. Taxes may be due on the estate, depending on the gross value of the estate and who the beneficiaries are. New Jersey may issue a lien on the bank account to ensure the tax requirement is fulfilled. New Jersey taxes both estates and inheritance. If the gross estate, barring debts and expenses, is $675,000 or greater, a tax return must be filed. If the net estate, after deductions, including debts and expenses exceeds $675,000, estate tax is due. If you are not a spouse, civil union partner, child, stepchild, parent, or grandparent, inheritance tax will be due. A tax return will most likely be filed depending on your class and how much you are receiving.

When finalizing the estate, a general accounting of assets and debts will take place. The beneficiaries will approve the details and file a Release and Refunding Bond, which acknowledges the receipt of distribution and the agreement to return any portion of their inheritance in the case of unexpected debt or unforeseen estate expenses after the allocation has been made.