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The role of executor within the estate planning process

Creating a properly drafted will is an important part of ensuring that one's assets are distributed to the proper heirs when the time comes. Another aspect of estate planning involves determining who should be appointed as the executor of one's will. This is an important choice, and one that can make a world of difference in the eventual outcome of a New Jersey resident's estate planning efforts.

The individual named as executor will be tasked with filing the will in probate court, which is the official beginning of the probate process. This filing must be made in a timely manner, or the estate can be treated as though the deceased party did not draft a will at all. The executor is also responsible for guiding the process of distributing assets to the proper parties, which is essential to meeting the wishes of the deceased.

In choosing an executor, it is important to select someone who is trustworthy. Just as important is ensuring that the chosen party is able and willing to carry out the duties of executor when the time comes. Selecting a friend or family member who is already overwhelmed with their own business or family matters could lead to a negative outcome.

The best approach is to meet with the individual(s) who are the best candidates for this role and discuss what is expected of them should they be called upon to handle the estate. This will help an individual determine if the chosen party is a good fit for this important estate planning role. In the event that there is no clear choice among friends and family, it is always possible to appoint a bank that has a trust department as executor. For some in New Jersey, this is the best way to ensure a smooth transfer of assets to the proper parties.

Source: itemonline.com, "Experience and training make the difference in estate planning", Aug. 9, 2015

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