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Probate FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Probate in Essex County, NJ

If you have been named the executor of an estate or if you have qualified as the administrator of an estate that had no will, then you may be wondering, "What am I supposed to do next?" I have provided some basic answers to frequently asked questions below; to learn more about the probate process, please contact me at directly at The Law Office of Alice Beirne to schedule a free consultation where we can discuss your case in further detail.

  • Where do I obtain a certified copy of a death certificate? - You can obtain a certified copy of a death certificate from local registrars for the municipality where the death took place, or you can also obtain them from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (vital statistics).
  • What documents do I need to probate a will? - If you are the named executor of the estate, you are going to need to provide the following documents to the Surrogate's Court: the original will, the death certificate with a raised seal, your photo identification, names and addresses of the decedent's closest next of kin (including any children of the decedent's deceased children), and filing fees.
  • Can an executor or administrator receive compensation for their services? - There is no doubt that being an executor/administrator is a time-consuming job, especially if the individual has a full time job or a family at home. An executor/administrator is entitled to an income commission and a corpus commission under New Jersey law. State laws have enacted a schedule in which compensation is determined by the value of the estate.
  • What happens when someone has a small estate and no spouse or domestic partner? - When someone dies without a will and they have no surviving spouse or domestic partner, but they do have heirs and the value of their estate is less than $10,000.00, then with the consent of the other heirs they can obtain an Affidavit of Next of Kin instead of filing for a formal administration.
  • Which people have a right to be appointed when someone dies without a will? - Either the spouse or the domestic partner has the first right; however, any one of the heirs may be appointed providing that the other heirs who have an equal or prior right give their consent.
  • Do I need to send copies of the will to the beneficiaries? - Within 60 days of probating the will, the personal representative is required to take out letters of administration; to notify the next of kin, heirs and beneficiaries that the will is being probated; to notify them of the date and place of the probate; and to provide a statement that a copy of the will shall be furnished upon request. Additionally, a Proof of Mailing must be filed in the Surrogate's office.
  • What is probate? - Probate is the process by which the surrogate accepts a will.
  • What is administration? - Administration is the appointment of a person to administer an estate if there is no will.
  • What do I do if I think a false will or a will that is the subject of undue influence is about to be probated? - File a caveat. A caveat is the name of notice given by a party with an interest to an officer telling the party not to act until the party giving the notice has been heard. A caveat asks that the probate judge does not prove a will, or grant letters of administration until the party has been heard.
  • What happens after a caveat is filed? - One or the other party must file a court action to proceed further.

Contact a West Orange Probate Attorney

For more information regarding the probate process and estate administration, please contact an Essex County probate lawyer from The Law Office of Alice Beirne today. With an AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and as one of New Jersey's 5% of attorneys included in the selection of Super Lawyers®, you can be rest assured that your case is in highly capable hands!

Contact my firm today at (973) 852-3283 to schedule a free consultation.

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