My Loved One Has Passed and I’m the Executor of the Estate. What Do I Do Now?

Feb 20, 2024 | Estate Planning, Financial, Trust

My Loved One Has Passed and I’m the Executor of the Estate. What Do I Do Now?



Are you concerned about how to stay organized while dealing with your grief and administering an estate?

Losing a beloved friend or family member is one of life’s most difficult and stressful challenges. We feel wounded yet we must make a lot of important decisions, often quickly. Having to administer our loved one’s estate while dealing with our grief only intensifies the level of difficulty and stress.

Gather yourself. You’re not alone. It may be helpful to focus on this list.

Remember to focus on one thing at a time and to put first things first.


    1. Plan to keep clear and complete records in case anyone demands an accounting or challenges the estate distributions.
    2. Publish a notice to potential creditors. It’s important to do this ASAP because creditors will have up to nine months to file a claim against the estate.
    3. Get death certificates. You’ll need multiples.
    4. Open an estate bank account.
    5. Get a waiver to release your loved one’s assets.
    6.  Determine whether any inheritance or estate taxes will be due. This will determine what forms or returns you will need to file. Besides the federal estate tax, there are two separate state taxes related to a person’s death: the Inheritance Tax and the Estate Tax. You may owe one, but not the other. You will never pay more than the higher of the two taxes.
    7. People who did not live in New Jersey but owned certain types of property in New Jersey (usually real estate) may need to pay New Jersey Non-Resident Inheritance Tax.
    8. Banks and financial institutions may release up to 50% of the entire amount of funds on hand before a waiver is received. These funds may only go to the executor, the administrator, or the joint owner of the account(s). Banks also must pay any checks for Inheritance or Estate Taxes (or both) written to New Jersey Inheritance and Estate Tax from a decedent’s account so long as there are sufficient funds in the account. This should be done without the need for a waiver.
    9. When filing any return for Inheritance Tax, the fair market value of the decedent’s assets should be reported as of the date of death, not as of the filing date.

Confused? Have questions? Need some guidance? Sussan Greenwald & Wesler’s experienced attorneys are standing by to help. Simply call 609-409-3500.

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