Randi Newbery, Estate Planning Lawyer, Livingston, New Jersey (Essex County), (973) 992-5034  
A Wealth of Experience, a Record of Results

An Experienced New Jersey Estate Administration Lawyer

An estate administration attorney with extensive experience in guiding families through the process of probate and administering estates, Randi F. Newbery understands the emotional distress and pain that clients often feel when a loved one has passed away. Even where a well-crafted estate plan exists, including a Last Will and Testament, the process of probate and administering the estate can be daunting. Probate is the legal process, supervised by the court, of transferring the property, real estate, and money of your loved one to his or her heirs and creditors. The purpose of the probate process is to protect the rights of the heirs as well as any creditors. In New Jersey, probate cases are handled by the Surrogate Court in the county where your loved one resided. After the validity of a Will has been established with the County Surrogate's Court, the process of estate administration begins.

When There is a Will (Testate)

If there is a Will, the Will names the Executor, also known as a Personal Representative. If the person named as Executor accepts, he or she must be officially appointed by the court. Whoever is named Executor has many extra duties and time-consuming responsibilities to carry out as well as deadlines to meet for the court, the beneficiaries of the estate, and state and federal taxing authorities. Initially, the Executor must locate the Will, create a list of the decedent's closest next of kin, and present the Will and the official death certificate to the Surrogate for probate. Sometimes the Executor does not feel capable of handling all of the tasks involved. If you have been named an Executor, it is important to know exactly what you are responsible for, and the deadlines associated with each part of the process. Getting advice from an attorney who is experienced in probate and estate administration increases the likelihood of the process going smoothly. Sometimes, Executors prefer to turn some or all of the work over to a qualified attorney. This can help avoid many dangers and difficulties.

Probating the Will is Just the Beginning

In New Jersey, if your loved one owned any property or real estate at the time of his or her death, that property must be formally transferred to the heirs. The Executor must inventory and value all of the assets of the estate. He or she is responsible for opening an estate checking account from which all bills will be paid; verifying which bills are legitimate for payment; keeping beneficiaries advised throughout the administration process; preparing inheritance, estate, and income tax returns for the state and federal governments; preparing an accounting for the beneficiaries and refunding bonds; and making distributions to the beneficiaries. A knowledgeable estate administration attorney can help you manage the estate of your loved one and distribute it as the Will directs.

The Many Responsibilities of the Executor

There are a number of New Jersey statutes that apply to the process of estate administration. The Executor is required by law to distribute the estate in a timely manner, in accordance with the terms of the Will. Even with a relatively modest estate, there is a significant amount of detailed work to be done before there can be any distribution. There are many forms that must be completed and there are deadlines to meet. The Executor, with assistance, prepares an accounting for the Estate's beneficiaries that covers the time period during which he or she acted in the capacity of Personal Representative. The probate process usually begins with probate forms being completed in person at the County Surrogate's offices. Friendly and knowledgeable, attorney Randi Newbery moves the process along smoothly and timely, accompanying her clients to court and assisting every step of the way.

What If No Will is Found?

When a person dies without having made a Will (intestate), the State of New Jersey will decide who gets the estate, based on state law. A family member may petition the court to administer the estate, or sometimes the court appoints a probate attorney as Administrator. Also known as a Personal Representative, the Administrator is required to pay all debts, taxes, and administration costs and then distribute whatever remains as the State requires. For example, if a husband or wife dies, the State will determine what share, if any, goes to the Decedent's surviving spouse, children, or parents. If someone dies without a Will, and with no surviving relatives, the estate goes to the State of New Jersey.

Choose an Experienced Estate Administration Attorney

Randi Newbery says, "There are many complexities involved with fulfilling your responsibilities as an Executor of an estate. Going it alone can be costly." If there are tax returns involved, or real estate to be sold or other property to be liquidated, you may benefit greatly from Randi Newbery's expertise in these areas. Ms. Newbery also notes that there are ways to avoid probate, with tools such as a Living Trust. If you would like to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable and experienced estate administration lawyer who can help you, call Randi Newbery at 973-992-5034.