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Home » Estate Planning » Understanding fiduciary duties in estate administration

When someone appoints you executor or personal representative over his or her New Jersey estate, you assume the responsibility of handling certain affairs on that party’s behalf. When that party dies, you must take certain steps when it comes to distributing that party’s assets, settling his or her debts, and closing the estate.

Because fiduciary duties may take considerable time, you may receive payment for your services. What are some of the duties you may have when you serve as a fiduciary for someone else?

Distributing assets

The deceased party’s will should provide you with information about how to distribute his or her estate. You may need to make distributions outright, or you may need to reference trusts or create new trusts, depending on the deceased party’s wishes. When distributing assets, you may need to work with an appraiser to place a value on some of them and distribute them accordingly.

Settling debts and expenses

If the deceased party left bills unpaid at the time of his or her death, it becomes your responsibility to take care of them. In some cases, you risk being liable for some debts and administration-related expenses if you spend some of the estates irresponsibly or otherwise fail to protect the assets inside.

While these are two key fiduciary responsibilities you may have when someone names you executor over his or her estate, this is not an exhaustive list of all responsibilities you may take on in the executor role. Once you take care of all of your fiduciary responsibilities, you may move forward with closing the estate.