Questions For Nick

I live in Illinois.  My uncle died a resident of New Jersey and named me executor of his estate.  He has other nieces and nephews who will also inherit.  One of my cousins wants me to administer the estate without receiving an executor’s commission.  Does that make sense?

As an executor of an estate you have significant responsibilities that will include travel from Illinois to New Jersey on at least several occasions to effectively administer your uncle’s estate.  Your work and family life will be impacted.

As an executor you will need to locate your uncle’s assets including bank and brokerage account statements, stock certificates, bonds, cash, and any other items of value.  You will be required to open an estate checking account and keep a detailed record of all additions and disbursements from the account.

If your uncle owned real estate, you will be responsible for maintaining it while you prepare it for sale.  You may need to retain plumbers, electricians, lawn maintenance and snow removal companies, and related contractors.  In the early part of the estate administration, you might have to advance your own money to ensure property taxes are paid and other urgent expenses are satisfied.

In regard to the contents of any real property that your uncle owned, it would be important to hire a videographer to videotape the interior of the premises when you first enter it to avoid any disputes with cousins regarding items they believed were in the property, but actually were not there.  You will need to coordinate the valuation of property like jewelry, coin or stamp collections, or similar items.  Depending on the extent of such personalty you may need to decide to whom it should be distributed or ensure they are sold at fair market value with the proceeds distributed to estate heirs.

Finally, as executor, you have a fiduciary responsibility to your cousins.  You should hire a competent local estate administration attorney to represent you.  Under the law, you are entitled to take all, some or none of your executor commission.  Before you agree to waive your compensation because of what another heir may say, carefully consider the significant amount of work and responsibility you will undertake as executor.

The questions and answers by Nicholas A. Giuditta, III, of the Law Office of Nicholas A. Giuditta, III, provided herein are for general information purposes only.  The information does not, nor is it intended to, constitute legal advice and is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship.  Online readers should not act upon this information without discussing the particular facts of their matter with an attorney.

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