Estate planning is a very important step in one’s life. Unfortunately, we have to face the inevitable by discussing the end of one’s life. Though difficult, estate planning can offer you a peace of mind regarding your vision of the end. You may have goals for your estate and assets. It is important to consider these factors now in order to accomplish your goals through a will. Without a will, those decisions about how to distribute assets are in the hands of the court. There are a few steps an executor must take to close an estate, including bringing a will to probate, gathering assets and guiding their distribution.

If you need quality legal services and compassionate counsel regarding probate and estate administration, contact Cohn Lifland today. Our attorneys are ready to guide you through your end of life legal matters.


The first stage of the estate administration process is offering a will for probate at the county Surrogate’s Court. When a will is accepted for probate, it is called a testate estate. Probate will establish the executor and the executor will present the will to the court. The court will issue Letters of Testamentary giving the executor the power to carry out your wishes.

Gathering Assets And Paying Liabilities

The next step is for the executor to collect all of your assets, determine their value, and pay any debts or liabilities that are outstanding. This may include paying taxes and filing any necessary tax returns.

Closing The Estate

It is the obligation of the Executor to provide a copy of the will and make distribution as provided in the will. A Release and Refunding Bond should be signed before any distributions are made. This protects the executor in the event debts or taxes arise after distribution. Once the executor files all of the documents with the Surrogate’s Court, the accounting and Release and Refunding Bonds will close the estate.

Contact Cohn Lifland

Though we have simplified the process, an Executor’s responsibilities go far beyond the ones listed on this page. Often, Executors of a will shall retain representation to guide them through the process. In addition, a person who wants a will should retain counsel that can adequately represent their interest and draft a durable will that will satisfy the courts.

If you need our legal services, contact Cohn Lifland today. Email us online or call 201-845-9600 today. From our office in Saddle Brook, our lawyers help clients throughout northern New Jersey.