How does the NJ Probate Process Work?

Nov 25, 2018 | Probate

The New Jersey Probate Process ensures that the assets are orderly and accurately distributed as per the intent of the testator’s Will

If there is a will and the will names an executor, then this person is responsible for “probating the Will”. Probating simply means that the County Surrogate has proved the Will to be authentic. Typically only the original copy of the Will is accepted by the County Surrogate.

The probate process in New Jersey ensures that the assets are orderly and accurately distributed as per the intent of the testator’s Will. If the Executor follows the probate process properly the assets are typically distributed without much delay, and with no tax liens. These procedures tend to be time sensitive and complex, and the assistance of an experienced probate attorney is recommended to guide the executor in getting through this process with minimal delays and preventing future issues.

In New Jersey, to be appointed as executor of the estate you must go to the surrogate’s court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death. This can happen as soon as ten (10) days after the death. The Executor must provide the court with a certified copy of the death certificate, the original Will, a list of names and addresses of the decedent’s next of kin, and payment for the fees and cost of opening probate.

If the Executor or Administrator is not a New Jersey Resident she/he must also post a bond unless the will states that it is not necessary. The bond is a kind of insurance policy that protects the estate if the executor or administrator mismanages or steals estate funds.

Unless there is reason to think the will is not valid, or someone is contesting the will in court (Also known as a “will caveat”), the Surrogate’s Court will issue a document called “Letters Testamentary” (if the executor was named in the will) or “Letters of Administration” (if the court appoints an administrator).  This documentation serves as proof that the Executor is authorized to obtain and transfer the assets of the decedent. An executor or administrator is entitled to compensation, called a commission, for the work of settling the estate. In New Jersey, this commission is governed under NJ Rev. Stat. § § 3B:18-13 and -14.

  1. Read more about the Probate Process in New Jersey.
  2. Read more about naming an executor in a will.
  3. Read what a New Jersey Executor is responsible for in the NJ Probate Process.

Having someone who you can trust to go over and counsel you in all elder law and estate planning matters is critical to minimizing conflict and undue delays in the probate process. Lazaro Cardenas offers legal and personal guidance through the NJ probate process.  For an initial free phone consultation call Lazaro Cardenas a New Jersey Trust and Estate Attorney from the Law Firm of Patel, Soltis & Cardenas at (973) 200-1111.

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