Augulis Law Firm Warren Township New Jersey Probate Resources
If you recently lost a family member or someone else close to you, the last thing you may be thinking of are the legal ramifications of your loved one’s death. If you were named as the Executor in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, however, it means that your loved one chose you to be in charge of the probate process. If your loved one the decedent died intestate, or without leaving behind a valid Will, you may also find yourself volunteering to be the “administrator,” which is effectively the same job as an Executor. The term “Personal Representative” is used to refer to either an Executor or an Administrator. If you have never served as a Personal Representative, you may know very little about the process of probating an estate. Retaining the services of an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney is always wise; however, to help get you started, the estate planning attorneys at Augulis Law Firm. have compiled some commonly used probate resources for the Warren Township, New Jersey area.
The New Jersey Probate Process
When someone dies, that individual leaves behind an estate that consists of all assets owned by the decedent at the time of death. Probate is the legal process by which those assets are ultimately transferred to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate. Probate also ensures that all creditors of the estate, including tax authorities, are paid. If the Decedent left behind a valid Will, the person named as Executor is responsible for overseeing the probate process and the terms of the Will determine how estate assets are distributed. In an intestate estate, the person appointed by the court to be the Administrator is in charge of the probate process and the New Jersey intestate succession laws govern the distribution of the decedent’s estate assets. For more general information on the probate process, the American Bar Association has a section entitled “The Probate Process” on its website that you may wish to read. In addition, the Somerset County Surrogate’s Court has a published a pamphlet entitled “How to Probate a Will in the Somerset County Surrogate’s Court” that provides some helpful information.
Probate is typically opened in the county in which the decedent was a resident at the time of death. If the decedent lived in Warren Township, New Jersey that will likely mean probate will take place in the Somerset County Surrogate’s Court. Most Personal Representatives (PRs) retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to assist during the probate process, particularly if the estate does not qualify for a small estate alternative to formal probate. If, however, you decide to proceed pro se, or without the assistance of an attorney, you will be expected to understand the court rules as well as the state and federal laws applicable to the probate of the estate. There are some resources available to you that may be helpful. For example, the New Jersey Courts have a Self Help Resource Center online that you may find helpful. The courts also published a list of things the court staff can and cannot do for you. As you will note, the staff cannot answer legal questions. Finally, the Surrogate’s Court does offer some of the forms you may need on its website.