The Probate Court of NJ and its processes can be a confusing and frustrating exercise for families already dealing with the loss of a loved one. Heirs can be forced to wait months, even years to get final disposition of the estate, even when a proper will exists. Your goal in your family’s estate planning is to arrange and legally document the distribution of all assets to insure that the absolute minimum time is spent in probate, and that all the heirs get their inheritances as soon as possible. Only in this way can families put this difficult period behind them and get on with their lives.
What is the NJ Probate Process?
Probate is a legal process whereby a deceased’s will and testament is proven to be a legal and official document. This has to be done before the estate can be handed over to the various beneficiaries or descendants. During this process, it is the duty of the court to ensure the following are observed:
- The correct version of the will is received and presented to those concerned while adhering to the correct probate process.
- Listen to objections regarding the will.
- All creditors of the deceased have been compensated. Especially the taxes due the government… Some say this is the primary reason for the length of the probate process (-:
- All remaining property is distributed to the designated beneficiaries according to the terms and conditions of the will.
What happens if someone dies without having a will in place?
If your loved one has passed on without having a will in place, they are said to have died “intestate.” When this happens, a court appoints an individual called an Administrator to handle and distribute the estate legally.
The NJ probate process ensures all probate cases (this is where the will needs to be ascertained as original and legal) need to go through the surrogate court which is located within the county where the individual has died. This court distributes the required legal documentation either for an Administrator or an Executor to deal with the proceedings (a descendant who can handle the affairs of the estate).
Do I need a NJ Probate Lawyer to represent me through this process?
It really depends on how complex the estate is, how clear the Will is, and how many individuals are designated heirs. In a very simple situation with one hier and a proper will in place, an astute individual could probably navigate the process. But mistakes in filing documents, providing various proofs, and dealing with the taxation issues can cost you thousands, not to mention the time and experience it requires to get it done quickly and correctly. Small mistakes made providing information can result in large delays, after all we’re dealing with the government here. An experienced probate lawyer can save you time, money, and aggravation through this process, regardless of the size or legal condition of the decedent’s estate. For these reasons, the vast majority of people choose to hire a qualified elder law attorney or probate lawyer.
Frank Campisano of SCC Legal is dedicated to the practice of elder law including acting as a probate attorney. He can assist with complete estate planning processes in New Jersey and will ensure you are professionally advised on the probate process and what is involved. Whether you would like to properly plan to pass your estate onto your children, or if you are trying to sort out the estate of a deceased loved one, Frank and his team are empathetic trusted advisors and that makes all the difference.