Understanding Probate in New Jersey

What is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised legal process that commences after the death of a person. In New Jersey, Probate is handled by the surrogate’s court in the county in which the decedent resided. The length of time a matter stays in probate can depend on the assets, debts, and liabilities held by the decedent. Typically, a matter in probate can complete within a year. However, probate proceedings are not always necessary and are only required under certain circumstances.

What if the Decedent Has a Will?

If the decedent has a will, there is usually an executor named. After the executor is identified, he or she may request the surrogate court in the appropriate county to appoint them as the executor of the estate. With the request, the executor can supply the court with a copy of the will and a certified copy of the death certificate. Typically, this process can assume as soon as 10 days after the decedent’s death.

What if the Decedent Did Not Have a Will?

The probate process can be complicated if the decedent did not have a will.  In this instance, the probate court will have to appoint an administrator to the decedent’s estate. If the decedent has a surviving spouse or domestic partner, they are usually given first priority to be appointed as the administrator of the estate. An administrator has the same responsibilities as an executor.

What Responsibilities can the Administrator or the Executor of an Estate have?

The duties and responsibilities of an administrator or an executor can vary. Some responsibilities can include:

  • Identifying all of the decedent’s assets;
  • Appraising assets, if applicable;
  • Paying all debts, taxes, and other liabilities;
  • Distributing property and assets per the decedent’s will, if applicable, or pursuant to state law if no will is present.

If you are the executor of a will, or believe you may be named the administrator of a loved one’s estate, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about estate administration or estate planning, CLICK HERE TO CONTACT Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C.

The law firm of Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C., is composed of experienced attorneys throughout the states of New Jersey and Delaware. Please contact the office for a free initial consultation and get any questions answered regarding your specific case.