From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am the Personal Representative for my mother’s estate. I have paid all of the creditors and have distributed the estate to my siblings and myself. I don’t think I have anything left to do, how do I close the estate?
Saying that an estate is “closed” is a misnomer, as the estate is never, really closed. The term refers to when the final assets of the estate are distributed, which normally means that the Personal Representative has no further work to perform. This takes place after the family settlement is signed.
The reality is, though, that the Personal Representative continues to have all the powers and responsibilities they previously possessed. If an asset is discovered years later, the Personal Representative still has the power to claim the asset and distribute it to the heirs. Or, if a creditor (say, the IRS) shows up to make a claim, the Personal Representative is the one who will be responsible to address the claim. This is why it is very important that the Personal Representative make sure that all claims are addressed before making final distribution of the Estate assets.
If you have any other questions about probate in Atlantic County, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.