Probate is when the deceased’s instructions that were documented in a will begin to be carried out. It starts after the person dies. During this procedure, the court ensures that the will is genuine.

The Responsibility of the Executor

An executor of a will has a tremendous responsibility to complete several actions. Because of this, it can take at least nine months for you to receive the property that you were promised in a will. As a matter of fact, most wills settle after about one year. As soon as someone close to you passes on, it might be a good idea to consult a estate planning litigation lawyer who can help walk you through what to expect during probate.

The First Step Is to Open the Estate

The process begins when the executor files the will and the death certificate for probate. The court must examine the will to make sure that everything is as it should be. If there are no issues, the will can be submitted for probate.

At this time, the court examines the executor’s application to be the executor, and it takes a couple of weeks to learn the decision. If the court accepts the executor’s application, the heirs will be notified that the executor has opened probate. In New Jersey, an executor has two months to complete this task.

The Second Step Is to Value the Assets

In New Jersey, the second thing that an executor must do is “value” the assets. In other words, the executor must locate all of the assets and place them in a location where they will be safe. This is for the purpose of paying estate taxes as well as ensuring that the assets can be divided into the designated portions for the heirs. If any real estate must be appraised, it may take six weeks to complete it.

In order to avoid having to pay interest, the executor must file the state tax return for the decedent and pay the taxes before eight months have passed.

Paying the Creditors

Wills cannot close probate in less than six months because the decedent’s creditors must have time to make claims on the estate for payments. At the beginning of the process, the executor must mail probate notices to the decedent’s spouse, heirs, and other beneficiaries. Then, the creditors have six months to file a claim with the estate for payment, and the executor has three months after the six-month deadline to determine the validity of the claims and pay them or not.

In order to place the six-month time limit on creditors, the executor must file for an order limiting creditors with the court. This protects the executor from liability in the event that a creditor is not notified of the passing of the decedent. If the court accepts this order, the executor has nine months to pay the creditors. After this has been done, the estate can be settled. If the estate is going to owe estate taxes, the process will have to continue.

Paying Estate Taxes

After the decedent dies, the executor must file a federal estate tax return within nine months. The executor also has nine months to file a New Jersey estate tax return. After the executor receives notice from the federal government and the state that the tax returns were without error and all taxes were paid, the executor can begin to close the estate. This process may require at least nine months.

An estate currently must pay federal taxes if the estate is worth more than $5,120,000. If the estate is for a married couple, they must pay estate taxes for an estate worth up to $10,240,000. Estates worth more than $675,000 for a single and $1,350,000 for a couple must pay New Jersey estate taxes.

In most cases, following the procedures necessary during the probate process is very difficult for people. If you are the personal representative of the decedent, you may take the initiative to hire an estate planning litigation lawyer to help you.

If you are searching for an experienced attorney, contact us at the Knee Law Firm in Hackensack, New Jersey, by filling out our online form. You can also call us at (201) 996-1200.