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What Is Probate?

April 13, 2021

When a loved one passes on, he or she will often leave behind a will that is required to pass through the probate process. Very often, the emotional stress of your loss is compounded by the complicated legal process it often entails. This is where an experienced attorney can step in and ease some of your pain. Here are some of the questions you may have regarding the probate process:

What Is the Difference Between Testate and Intestate?

If your loved one died intestate, this means he or she had drafted a valid will before his or her time of death. However, if your loved one died intestate, he or she died without drafting a valid will. When this is the case, New Jersey will appoint someone close to your loved one to oversee the administration of the estate. The closest living relative has the right to apply as the representative.

What Is the Probate Process Like?

The probate process mainly deals with paying debts, filing tax returns, and gathering, managing and distributing assets. If your loved one has drafted a valid will, the Surrogate’s Court will oversee its probate. If the will is contested, it will be sent to the Superior Court. For a will to have any legal effect, the probate process will seek to prove it has been validly executed, that it was the last will drafted and that it was not revoked. The probate process may not begin until 11 days after the date of death. At this time, the executor, heirs, spouses, creditors, or anyone else with a property right in or claim against the estate will file the original will and death certificate with the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the deceased lived at the time of his or her death.

What Is the Job of An Executor?

It is the executor’s job to ensure the decedent’s wishes are carried out in accordance with his or her will. Some of the primary responsibilities of an executor are to:

  • Collect, protect and distribute assets according to the will’s specification

  • Provide accounting to the court

  • Pay outstanding debts and taxes

The executor of a will must be a responsible, trustworthy person, so it is very important you choose your executor wisely.

Contact Our New Jersey Firm

Probate law sometimes gets very complicated, so it is typically in your best interest to hire an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the probate process.

Juan C. Velasco, Esq. is a trusted attorney who concentrates on bankruptcy, family law, real estate, and estate matters who has been serving the New Jersey area for over 25 years. If you are in need of experienced legal counsel, please contact Velasco Law Office and we will be happy to assist you.