New Jersey Probate Process: What Executors Need to Know
October 19, 2022
If you’ve landed on this blog, let us first offer you our condolences on the passing of your loved one. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family.
As you navigate your new normal, one thing you may be tasked with is becoming an executor of your loved one’s estate. As such, you will have to enter into probate. The good news is that the probate process in New Jersey is pretty simple and this guide will walk you through what you need to know about it.
What is Probate? And How Do You Get Started?
Probate is the first step in allowing you to legally distribute assets to the beneficiaries outlined in your loved one’s will. The first step is to determine if your loved one had a will.
If your loved one was sick or did prior estate planning, chances are that they told you whether or not they have a will. If they did and you know where it is, then you will submit that, along with the death certificate and petition for probate to the Surrogate Court in the county in which they lived.
If you know they have a will but aren’t sure where to look, it’s recommended that you check their home, with other family members, past lawyers, and safety deposit boxes. If you can’t find one through these methods, then chances are they didn’t have one.
If there was no will, then the court will appoint someone to serve as an administrator of the deceased’s estate. Usually, the probate court will want to appoint the deceased’s spouse, however, this could also extend to other relatives, including adult children.
What Happens After I File for Probate?
After you file for probate, you will then have to notify all beneficiaries that the probate process has started. This can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially if you have to notify estranged siblings or other relatives that weren’t named in the will, but are still entitled to inherit assets under the state’s intestacy law.
The Surrogate Court’s office will send over the documents you need to mail this filing, and it’s recommended that you send it by certified mail that way you can claim your due diligence.
Important Things to Know About Being an Executor
After filing for probate, your role as executor will expand to several different tasks, such as paying your loved one’s taxes, opening up a bank account for their estate, and paying off any and all outstanding debts. This also includes paying for a Child Support Judgment Search to ensure that the inheritor(s) has not been found to have any back payments for child support.
Only after all of these steps are taken, can you, as executor, distribute the funds to the beneficiaries and officially be relieved of your duties by the court.
Contact a Fort Lee Estate Planning Attorney for a Consultation in New Jersey
You deserve to have peace of mind about whether your loved ones will be taken care of after you are gone. The best way to plan for your future, and the future of your close family members or other loved ones, is to speak with an estate planning lawyer about your specific circumstances and financial situation. The experienced New Jersey estate planning attorneys at the Choi Law Firm assist clients with wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. We represent clients across North Jersey, including Bergen County, Passaic County, and Essex County, and throughout New York, including Queens County, Nassau County, and NYC. Call us anytime at 201-613-5557 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a confidential consultation. Our main office is located at 1372 Palisade Avenue, 2nd Floor, Fort Lee, NJ 07024, and we also have an office located in Flushing, NY at 164-01 Northern Boulevard.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.
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