New Jersey Estate Law: Planning for the Future

estate law Sea Girt, NJ

Since planning for the future is such a specific undertaking, New Jersey estate law has covered any of the possible situations providing solutions to any of the possible goals. Having a professional who can navigate the legal system to handle the distribution of the estate is essential. They can help you better plan for your future.

Q: What does the executor of an estate do?

A: After submitting a person’s will to the courts after their death, the executor of an estate looks at all the assets, settles any outstanding debts and taxes, and then distributes any remaining funds to the specific parties identified in the will. Due to the high level of responsibility involved, it is crucial to choose an executor of the estate that is trustworthy, reliable, and able to handle the estate properly.

For a more complicated estate, executing a person’s will can be a massive undertaking involving copious amounts of work. An executor of an estate needs to track all of their actions with documentation to justify their actions. Thus, the process requires a responsible and capable individual.

Q: Where does the executor obtain the funds to pay any debts of the deceased?

A: New Jersey estate law generally allows an executor to withdraw up to half of the existing funds in a New Jersey bank. They can do this by presenting the surrogate court’s short order certificate.  The executor is then usually advised to place these funds in an escrow or similar accessible account to easily access and pay the debts accordingly.

Q: Is life insurance part of the deceased’s estate?

A: It depends. A life insurance policy is a contract between an insurance company and the holder of the policy, with the proceeds paid according to the contract terms.  Thus, whether the life insurance policy is part of the estate depends on the terms of the contract.

A life insurance policy can be paid to the estate or a specially designated beneficiary, with a backup contingent beneficiary usually in place as well.  If the designated and contingent beneficiaries are unavailable to receive the life insurance policy, the policy proceeds will transfer to the estate as a third implied backup.    

Q: What tax returns does New Jersey estate law require the executor to file?

A: Even following a person's death, taxes must still be correctly completed and timely filed. The executor can be personally liable for any errors on a submitted tax return. Given the number of tax returns the estate executor might have to file, it is easier to hire a probate attorney to understand what tax forms are necessary. The tax forms can range from the deceased's inheritance tax, estate tax, school tax, and various other specialized taxes.

Working with an estate executor can provide peace of mind for the individual client and help them to plan for the future. 

Call (732) 449-0449 to schedule a consultation with Anthony J. Cafaro, P.C. in our Sea Girt office.

NOTE: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice

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