A loved one's death may be the end of his or her life, but it is only the beginning of tasks that need to be completed by family members left behind. You may feel as though you spent all of your energy planning and attending the funeral and burial. However, once these initial tasks are completed, you may be responsible for dealing with your loved one's financial affairs and the distribution of his or her property through a process called estate administration.
Here in New Jersey, the first issue that needs to be dealt with is to locate one's will, which will be filed with the court. The court's first task is to formally appoint you as personal representative or executor of the estate. From there, the process can get complex and time-consuming. Therefore, it may be a good idea to enlist the services of an attorney familiar with the probate process who can guide you through the weeks and months ahead, along with preparing and filing the documents the court will require regarding the estate.
You will be responsible for locating assets, paying bills, filing tax returns and distributing your loved one's property in accordance with the will and trusts, if any. Beneficiaries of the estate may not always agree with the terms of these documents, or even how you are handling the estate. An attorney can help with these issues as well.
Losing a loved one can be overwhelming, and you may feel as if you are not afforded adequate time to grieve. This is a difficult time for you, and fortunately, there is no reason to handle everything alone. Taking advantage of someone else's experience in New Jersey estate administration can relieve some of the stress during this difficult time.