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How are executors chosen and what are their probate duties?

One legality that comes with the death of a loved one in Moorestown is the administration of the deceased's estate. The person assigned to complete all estate administration duties is known as an "executor." The following is a brief overview of who may be selected as an executor and their duties.

If the deceased left a will, that will might name a particular person to serve as executor of the deceased's estate. In general, anyone, except for convicted felons, can be named as executors, even if they do not live in the same state as the deceased. For example, a husband or wife, a lawyer, a relative, a friend or a bank trust department could all be named as executors.

In addition, a will may also name an alternative executor, just in case the first executor is unable to perform the duties of an executor of the deceased's estate. If the deceased did not leave a will, the probate court will appoint an executor.

Once an executor is recognized, he or she will receive a document known as the "letters of administration" from the probate court. This document gives the executor the ability to handle the deceased's property and performed the responsibilities that come with seeing an estate through the probate process. In general, estate administration involves collecting the property of the deceased, inventorying it and appraising it, paying any debts or taxes the deceased owes and then distributing what is left of the deceased's estate to his or her heirs.

Executors may receive compensation for performing their duties. State law outlines the amount of this compensation, for example, naming a certain percentage of the value of the estate to go to the executor of the estate. However, in some states, a person can state in his or her will that the executor of his or her estate should receive no compensation.

Serving as executor of an estate is an honor, even if it comes during a time of grief. Those in Moorestown who have been named executor of an estate may want to discuss their role with an attorney, to ensure they lawfully and effectively execute their duties.

Source: The Huffington Post, "An Estate Administration Overview," Brad Reid, Feb. 26, 2015

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