If you’ve recently had a loved one pass away, you may have many questions about the process used to settle his or her estate. It may be that you were entrusted to serve as the executor for your loved one’s will, and thus now find yourself tasked with typing up the many loose ends that we all leave behind when we die. Or perhaps you’re listed as an heir in the will and just want to know more about how the process will unfold. In either instance, you’re about to encounter one of the most common legal processes in the United States: probate. And, as with anything else in life, the more you know about probate the less stressful the process will be. The good news is that there are a wide variety of resources available to help you better understand the probate process and all that it entails.
What is Probate for Anyway?
Probate is, at its core, simply a legal process for settling your affairs when you die. It is not always the only way your affairs can be settled, but it is a commonly used process. Without it, many estates would have almost no efficient way to settle debts, ascertain the deceased’s wishes, and ensure that heirs receive their inheritance. Probate does all of those things for estates that have wills attached to them, and for estates that do not. In fact, probate is needed for all but the smallest and simplest of estates, and those that have used other estate planning tools like trusts to distribute assets.
The New Jersey Process for Probating an Estate
Across the United States, different jurisdictions have their own distinct ways of managing the probate process. New Jersey is unique in its own way as well. As a result, it is not enough to simply understand how probate works in a general sense. You also need to know how it works in the state in which your loved one’s estate is being settled. If you are dealing with an estate probate process in the state of New Jersey, the following resources can help:
New Jersey Courts Probate Information about Rule 4:80. This website provides information about applying for letters of administration with the Surrogate’s Court for the county the deceased lived in at the time of death and other important probate-related matters.
The state also provides a variety of forms for download and use by people just like you. You can find them listed here.
New Jersey Laws Governing Probate
If you want to gain more insight into the state’s probate laws, you can review the actual empowering statutes that govern the process in New Jersey. You can read the 2013 New Jersey Revised Statutes Title 3B – Administration of Estates–Decedents and Others for a better understanding of these laws.
New Jersey Estate and Inheritance Tax
You may also be interested in learning more about how New Jersey’s estate and inheritance tax provisions could apply to your loved one’s estate – or even your own, if you’re currently thinking about estate planning. You can discover what you need to know about New Jersey’s laws on the state’s Department of the Treasury website. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you can also obtain more information by calling them at 609-292-5033. If the estate in question is subject to the New Jersey tax, you may also want to check to see how the federal estate tax might impact it. You can find information about the federal tax on the Internal Revenue Service’s website.
Other State Probate and Estate Tax laws
Sometimes, a deceased’s estate might necessitate learning about other state laws on probate, estate tax, and similar matters. Though some effort has been expended toward the goal of creating greater uniformity among the states’ laws, there is still a great deal of work to be done in that regard. Currently, there remain important differences between the several states, and that can add new complications to your efforts to understand the process. The good news is that you can easily review another state’s laws by using Everplans’ state resource page.
Probate Court Resources
In New Jersey, probate is handled by the Surrogate’s Court in the county in which the decedent died. If you’re an executor, that is the county that you will need to contact to begin the probate process. The courts have provided a handy downloadable list of the various counties and their Surrogates that you can obtain here.
Probate and Estate Planning Information
You can also obtain many details about the probate process and estate planning issues by reviewing the laws governing these important areas of concern, as well as other resources that can help to provide insight into end-of-life planning and estate administration.
- The American Bar Association offers a useful guide to probate on its website.
- You can also review the laws and get answers to many common questions about wills here.
- Everyone should have an incapacity plan in place. Whether you’re named as an agent-in-fact or are thinking about creating your own Durable Power of Attorney, you should familiarize yourself with the state’s laws on the subject.
Legal Assistance in Your Community
Of course, one of the best things that you can do to educate yourself about probate in New Jersey and ensure that you have the guidance you need to properly navigate the probate process is consult with an experienced probate attorney. With the right estate planning attorney in your corner, you can better protect your interests and remove much of the stress that the probate process can cause.
At Augulis Law Firm, our legal team can help to ensure that you get the probate help you need to get through these trying times with a minimum of stress and confusion. Our experience in estate planning and elder law provides us with the expertise you need to ensure that your interests are safeguarded. We can also assist you with your own estate planning needs to ensure that you protect your assets, provide for your loved ones, and leave behind a legacy worthy of your life’s work. To find out more about how we can help you with your probate and estate planning needs, contact us online today or give us a call at (908) 222-8803.