I’m the executor of my mom’s estate. Am I doing it right?

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Q. I am the co-executor of my mom’s estate, which is the proceeds from the sale of her home in New Jersey. Is the executor(s) required to sign a release and refunding bond? How long should I wait before closing the estate account? Can I distribute funds without receiving all the release and refunding bonds? How long do I wait before I file an order of discharge?
— Executor

A. We’re sorry to hear about your mom.

But we’re glad that you’re taking your executor duties seriously and that you want to do it the right way.

Under New Jersey law, an executor is required to take refunding bonds and releases from all of the beneficiaries and file them with the county surrogate upon paying the beneficiaries their shares of the estate, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

The executor is not required to sign a refunding bond and release unless the executor is also a beneficiary, she said.

Executors are required to settle an estate expeditiously.

“If the estate is subject to federal estate tax or a New Jersey inheritance tax the executor should wait until a tax waiver is received,” Whitenack said. “The executor can close out the estate when there are no outstanding or pending claims.”

Importantly, she said it is “not prudent” for an executor to distribute funds without receiving all the release and refunding bonds because if a beneficiary disputes the amount of his or her share, it can affect the amount that all of the other beneficiaries will receive.

And finally, there is no need to obtain an order of discharge if all of the beneficiaries have signed refunding bonds and releases.

“Such orders are usually sought when a formal accounting is submitted to the court because one or more beneficiaries have refused to sign a refunding bond and release,” Whitenack said.

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This story was originally published on Jan. 2, 2023.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.