Probate & Estate Administration
Probate is the process by which a decedent’s will is deemed genuine. In New Jersey, probate is under the purview of the county surrogate. The surrogate will issue a judgment admitting a will that is found to be proper – assuming no caveat is filed or other issue identified. Next, the surrogate issues Letters Testamentary to document the authority to the Executor to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate. A similar process is required when the decedent has no will or dies intestate, except that the personal representative (here an “administrator” rather than executor) must qualify and purchase a surety bond. Ancillary probate processes are required when a decedent resided out-of-state but owned real property in New Jersey. If you would like a consultation to learn more about this topic and your options, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.
There are many legal requirements in administering an estate in New Jersey. An estate administration typically begins when a personal representative is authorized by the county surrogate to act as the estate’s fiduciary, to manage the affairs of the estate from cradle to grave to include protecting estate assets and mitigating risk, vetting legitimate estate liabilities, payment of taxes, etc. An estate administration is often complicated by the fact that beneficiary expectations may run quite high, and altogether the comprehensive nature of the process can present daunting challenges. If you would like a consultation to learn more about this topic and your options, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.
Perhaps because of the high-stakes involved, estates are often the subject of litigation. Typically, estate litigation ensues in the Chancery division, which is a court of equity. One of the most common claims is that the will is in some way improper; for example, that the will is superseded by another, that someone exerted improper undue influence on the testator, etc. If you would like to learn about your options in this realm, please call our office to set up a meeting with an attorney.