How are estate assets distributed?

UPDATED: Aug 3, 2011

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How are estate assets distributed?

My mom passed away and named my uncle the executor of her estate. So he is in charge of all the legal things. My mom had a mortgage out in her name, plus she had was a car and some money in the bank. Does that money have to go towards the mortgage? Also, my uncle wants to gift me the car since he is the executor he is allowed to sign it over. Is that actually supposed to be sold or is he able to gift it to me?

Asked on August 3, 2011 New Jersey


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  You are very smart to ask about these things.  The executor is supposed to gather all the assets (called marshaling assets) and publish for creditors to ascertain the debts.  The debts can be paid off with the assets (cash) or you can sell an asset to pay off the liability (house and mortgage).  Generally speaking the assets should NOT be distributed until the liabilities are settled and he can not "gift" anything but must distribute according to the Will or intestacy statutes.  You may wish to ask an attorney in the area about this and bring a copy of the court documents.  They are public record.  Good luck.  

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