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New Jersey probate process can get complicated

When a loved one passes away, there is grief and loss to try to grapple with and accept. But like so many times in life when we least want to be bothered with legalities, paperwork and details, the time of mourning also includes those intrusions.

The probate procedure can start as soon as 11 days after the passing of the loved one. However, even before then it’s necessary to determine if there’s a need to probate the will. For many people, probate is a complicated process for which they turn to an experienced attorney who can help them navigate the legal system.

According to the state of New Jersey, one of the first things to determine is if there are assets solely in the decedent’s name at the time of death. Sometimes, when there no assets solely in the person’s name, the family chooses to seek closure by filing the will with the Surrogate’s Court.

However, if the person had assets solely in their name when they died, there is no choice for the family to make: the will must be probated, no matter what the value of the estate might be. Probate is carried out so the executor named in the will can assume the needed authority to transfer assets to the person’s estate.

The family should also check to make sure the will is an original will, not a copy. Only original wills will be accepted by the court. It must also be determined who has been named executor and if that person qualifies.

Obviously, many questions will arise during the probate process; questions many feel most comfortable asking of an estate administration attorney. 

We will discuss in future posts more of the process, problems it can pose, and possible solutions to those problems.

Source: NJ.gov, "Probate of Wills," Accessed July 17, 2014

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