What to Know About the Probate Process in New Jersey

If you have lost a loved one and are now dealing with the probate of a will, our firm understands that this can be a stressful time. The probate process involves providing appropriate notices, gathering and managing the estate assets, paying the debts of the estate, and in some cases, filing inheritance and estate tax returns. To learn more about what you can expect during the probate process, continue reading and contact our probate lawyer in Monmouth County, NJ.

What should I know about the probate process?

During probate, the court transfers assets and real estate property to heirs or beneficiaries.

  • Testate: When an individual passes away with a will, the deceased died “testate.” The original will is submitted to the Surrogate in the county where the deceased resided and the executor or personal representative is appointed. If the will is contested, there would be a court proceeding.
  • Intestate: When an individual passes away without a will, the deceased died “intestate”. The Surrogate will appoint an estate administrator so long as it is not contested (if appointment of the administrator is contested, an action would be brought and the court would decide). The closest living relative such as a spouse, child, or parent (in order of priority) may apply to serve as the administrator. Any person entitled to serve who chooses not to, would submit a renunciation indicating that they are unwilling to serve in that role. If there are no family members, then another party may request appointment as administrator.
  • Assets: The assets of an estate will be distributed after all of the debts, taxes, and administration costs have been paid. Small distributions may be made prior to this. The estate will pay these expenses and debts. It is determined within the will how the debts and taxes will be allocated, which may be among the beneficiaries depending on how much tax their bequest generated or paid from the residue of the probate estate.

What should I know about admitting a will to probate?

A probate action cannot begin until eleven days after the date of death according to New Jersey law. To begin probate, the original will, a certified copy of the death certificate and a fact sheet will need to be submitted to the surrogate’s court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death.

The executor of the will must:

  • Submit the will for probate
  • If there is no will, a bond is frequently required depending upon the value of the estate
  • Collect and manage assets of the estate. The executor must obtain this bond.
  • File income tax returns for the decedent and estate and file any inheritance or estate taxes. The executor must pay these taxes.
  • Provide a Notice of Probate to the next of kin
  • Pay any legitimate and enforceable debts of the estate
  • Prepare an informal accounting of the estate.
  • Submit Refunding Bonds and Releases to the Surrogate, after being signed by the beneficiaries.
  • Make distributions to beneficiaries

If you require help with the probate process, do not hesitate to contact an experienced estate planning attorney. My firm is prepared to assist you with any probate matters. Give our firm a call today to schedule your initial consultation.

Contact our Firm

The planning and administration of an estate requires experienced legal guidance. If you need an effective attorney to assist you with matters of wills, trusts, and estates, or the taxes associated with them, contact Margaret M. Mahon, Esq. LLC today to schedule a consultation.