Probate administration after a family member passes away can be costly and time-consuming. Probate is a court-supervised legal process that may include proving a decedent's will is valid, identifying and creating an inventory of a decedent's property, appraising property, paying debts or taxes, and distributing assets among the decedent's survivors according to his or her wishes or the rules of intestate succession. At Goldstein Law Group, our Monmouth County probate lawyers can help administer an estate or establish a power of attorney when a family member's health or mental capacity seems to be deteriorating. The guidance of an estate planning attorney is often critical in these sensitive matters.The Process of Probate Administration
There are two types of probate in New Jersey. The simplified probate procedures, which are less expensive than regular probate, are available when a decedent did not leave a will or substantial property. Simplified probate procedures can be used if the assets in the decedent's estate do not exceed $20,000, and a surviving spouse or domestic partner is entitled to all of it. Simplified procedures can also be used if the assets are not worth more than $10,000, and there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner. One heir can file a sworn statement with the court, after receiving consent from other heirs, and receive assets.
The other type of probate is more complicated. It is handled by the surrogate's court in the decedent's county of residence in New Jersey. A person who is named as the executor of the will goes to the surrogate's court to request formal appointment as an executor 10 days after the death. The executor needs to supply a will and a certified death certificate. If there is no will or the executor named in the will is unwilling to serve in that capacity, the probate court can appoint an administrator who will do the job. The first priority to act as administrator goes to a surviving spouse or domestic partner.
The court issues "Letters Testamentary" or "Letters of Administration," which authorize the executor or administrator to collect assets and get them appraised, pay taxes and debts, and distribute any remaining property as the will or New Jersey law dictates. Sixty days after a will is admitted to probate, the executor or administrator is required to mail a notice of proceedings to the heirs if there is no will, or to beneficiaries that are named in the will.
Within 60 days after a will is admitted to probate, the executor or administrator must mail notice of the proceeding to all heirs (people who inherit under state law in the absence of a will) and beneficiaries named in the will. The executor or administrator will usually open an estate bank account and consolidate any of the decedent's accounts in the estate bank account. The bank account's funds are used to pay any expenses of the estate, as well as debts and taxes. After debts and taxes are paid, the executor or administrator will follow the decedent's directions as set forth in a valid will, or if there is not a valid will, the executor or administrator will follow New Jersey's laws of intestate succession.Consult a Monmouth County Lawyer for a Probate Matter
It can be expensive and time-consuming to wait for an estate to settle. For many people, it is important to avoid probate and plan for the distribution of your estate through a trust. At Goldstein Law Group, our Monmouth County probate attorneys are ready to assist you with the complexities of these matters. Our main office is located in Old Bridge, and we have a satellite office in Freehold. Many of our clients have come from communities such as Rumson, Red Bank, and Manalapan. Contact us at 732-967-6777 or via our online form for a free consultation. We also can assist people who need a family law attorney or representation in a criminal defense, real estate, civil litigation, or business law matter.