When someone designates you as the executor of his or her New Jersey estate in his or her will and you agree to act as such when (s)he dies, you then must take that estate through probate. Obviously some estates have more assets than others, and the more assets, the longer the probate period involved and the more duties you likely will need to perform.

Per the American Bar Association, all estate administrators serve in a fiduciary capacity. What this means is that whatever your specific duties, you must perform them so as to preserve, or even increase, the value of the estate’s assets.

Administrator duties overview

Whatever the complexities of the estate, you can expect to perform the following six duties:

  1. Make application for Letters Testamentary to the Probate Court
  2. Get at least one certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased, probably more
  3. Find, catalog and secure the decedent’s assets, as well as his or her mail and bills
  4. Notify each of the decedent’s creditors of the death, plus your opening of the probate estate
  5. Oversee and manage the estate during the probate period, including paying the decedent’s valid bills and other claims against the estate
  6. Put together a final estate accounting in which you list all of the estate’s income and outflow during probate.

Ultimately you will pay yourself your authorized administrator’s fee and then distribute the estate’s remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs as called for in his or her will.

While you should not interpret this general educational information as legal advice, it can help you understand the duties you will encounter as an estate administrator.