Probate and Estate Administration are required at a very difficult time in our client’s life. Our attorneys are experienced in the procedures required to smoothly probate an estate and complete the administration of an estate from beginning to end and we strive to do that with compassion and sensitivity to what our client is going through at the time. Probate is the procedure of presenting a decedent’s will to the surrogate of the county where the decedent resided and asking the surrogate to declare the will valid, admit it to probate and qualify a personal representative (i.e. an executor). In New Jersey, this process generally takes less than fifteen minutes and costs less than $500. In other states such as New York, Florida, Texas and California, the probate process is court-supervised and can take a lot more time and cost a lot more money. In those states, individuals often take steps to avoid the probate process but that is generally not necessary in states with systems similar to New Jersey’s.
If someone dies without a will (i.e., intestate), his or her estate is subject to administration. This process also starts at the county surrogate’s office or court. In this case, the personal representative is known as an administrator. In either case, some degree of estate administration will be required. Administration includes the process of gathering together the decedent’s assets and liabilities, satisfying all debts and expenses, filing death tax returns if necessary, paying the taxes, if any, and distributing the remainder of the estate in accordance with the decedent’s will or, in the case of an intestacy, according to the applicable statutes.
In the course of administering an estate, several tax and non-tax decisions will have to be made. An experienced attorney can help you understand the law and make the decisions that are most appropriate for you and your family.