If there is no will, or the person named in the will has deceased, the probate court will appoint an “administrator.”This person does the same job as an executor. New Jersey law gives thesurviving spouse or domestic partner, if any, first priority to be appointed asadministrator.
An executor or administrator who is not a resident of NewJersey must post a bond, unless the will states that it’s not necessary. A bondis a kind of insurance policy that protects the estate if the executor oradministrator mismanages or steals estate funds.
Unless there is reason to think the will is not valid, orsomeone is contesting the will in court (this is called a “will caveat”), thesurrogate’s court will issue a document called “Letters Testamentary” (if theexecutor was named in the will) or “Letters of Administration” (if the courtappoints an administrator). This document gives the executor or administrator theduty and authority to:
- collect and inventory the deceased person's assets,and keep them safe
- have the assets professionally appraised, ifnecessary
- pay valid debts and taxes, and
- distribute the remaining property as the will(or if there's no will, state law) directs.
Within 60 days after a will is admitted to probate, the executoror administrator must mail notice of the proceeding to all heirs (people whoinherit under state law in the absence of a will) and beneficiaries named inthe will.
An executor or administratoris entitled to compensation, called a commission, for the work of settling theestate. The commission is 6% of income received by the estate plus 5% of thevalue of the gross estate for estates up to $200,000.00, 3.5