Managing Estates

1. Trusts

A trust is an agreement allowing a third party to administer another person’s property or bequest. It can be created through or independent of a will. Such an agreement can be established for minor children or others who are incapable of managing their affairs or bequests. The third-party appointed to administer this property or bequest is called a trustee.

When a trustee is named in a will, the trustee must file a written declaration under oath to accept the Trusteeship and a Power of Attorney. This declaration contains the name and address of the trustee and all persons with an interest in the trust. It also identifies their interest in the trust. Upon the filing of this declaration, appropriate certificates and Letters of Trusteeship are issued by the Surrogate’s Court.

2. Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a written document that authorizes an individual to act on behalf of another person regarding property, bank accounts or other legal matters. A Power of Attorney is often used when an individual is unable to carry out his or her affairs, and requires assistance. There are two types of Power of Attorney: Limited Power, which gives authority to act for a specific purpose or event, such as the purchase of a home; General Power, which gives authority to act on all legal matters.

3. Documentation

Here is a list of documents and important papers that may be needed to help settle your estate and resolve issues for your survivors. Keeping these documents in a single and known location, or ensuring that a responsible person has a list of the location of all these documents can save time and trouble in the future.

  • Will and other final instructions documents
  • Real Estate deeds, related records
  • Death certificate
  • Income tax records
  • Checking/savings/CD acct. numbers and banks
  • Vehicle titles and other paperwork
  • Safe deposit key, number, name of holder
  • Installment loans
  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, other securities
  • Birth/baptismal cert., adoption papers, etc.
  • Pension and annuity records
  • Social security numbers
  • Insurance policies
  • Marriage, divorce, prenuptial documents
  • Union/company health and other benefits
  • Military and civil service documentation

4. Unclaimed Property

If an estate has unclaimed property and

  • the will were already probated, call 973-285-6500 for an updated certificate.
  • the will were not already probated, make an appointment to probate the estate.
  • the Administrator or Executor was already appointed, seek an updated certificate by calling 973-285-6500.

5. Guidelines for Executors/Administrators

If you have just probated a Will and have. been appointed Executor, or if you have qualified as administrator for an estate with no Will, you may be asking yourself the question, “What do I do next?”

  1. Notice of Probate of the Will must be served on all interested parties within sixty (60) days of probate advising them of the name and address of the Executor. A copy of the Will should accompany this.
  2. The Executor/Administrator is responsible for determining and marshaling all assets of the estate. An estate checking account _is opened from which bills are paid.
  3. The Executor/Administrator is responsible for paying all debts, last illness expenses, inheritance and estate taxes, and administrative expenses from the decedent’s assets.
  4. The Executor/Administrator is responsible for filing appropriate State and Federal tax forms as applicable and forwarding any tax payments due.
  5. The Executor/Administrator is entitled to a commission of 5% of the value of the gross estate up to $200,000, 3 1/2% of that portion of the estate between $200,000-$1,000,000, and 2% on that portion over $1,000,000.
  6. The Executor/Administrator may need to prepare an informal accounting of the estate assets, disbursements, and proposed distribution for approval by all interested parties. Filing fees for an informal accounting are $5.00 per page. However, any interested party may apply to the Superior Court of New Jersey to compel a formal accounting of the estate.
  7. The Executor has the obligation to distribute the net estate in a timely manner, in accordance with the terms of the Will. The Administrator distributes in accordance with the intestate laws of the State of New Jersey.
  8. Prior to the distribution, each beneficiary shall execute a Refunding Bond and Release. Upon receipt of the executed document, the. Executor/Administrator issues payment. The original Refunding Bonds and Releases are filed with the Surrogate’s Court. The filing fee is $10.00 for the first two (2) pages, $5.00 per page thereafter.