Probate FAQ / Frequently asked questions
- What is Probate?
Probate is designed to create a "final accounting" upon death. It is the legal process of "proving up" a Will, or verifying that a Will is valid, takes place in one of two instances. First, if a person dies leaving behind a Will, or second, if the deceased has died intestate, that is, has not left behind a Will or estate plan of any type or the Will cannot be found.
- What is Probate Court?
Probate begins and ends with the special Probate Court set up in each state to handle estate issues. All actions taken regarding the estate are accountable to this court, and must be noted and reported regularly. This court is staffed by special judges qualified to oversee estate resolution issues.
- How do I begin the probate procedure?
The executor, executrix, or personal representative can be appointed and the will admitted to probate in most cases by going to the Surrogate's Court with the original will, certified death certificate, and, of the will is not self-proven, at least one of the witnesses who signed the will must prove the signature of the will.
Many times there is no Will. Attorney Hawkins Taylor is equipped to assist you whether or not a Will can be found.
- Surety Bonds are REQUIRED
If there is no Will appointing someone to act as a Representative of the Estate (Executor), the person who applies to act as Representative MUST get bonded.
The State of New Jersey requires a bond be posted representing the full value of the real and personal property in the Estate. The bond is like an insurance policy on the Estate to ensure that the assets are distributed properly. The Surrogate does not have the right or discretion to waive the requirement.
The purpose of the bond is to protect the heirs and creditors of the estate.
- Executors/Administrators MUST obtain Surrogate Certificates. Why?
This Certificate is given as evidence to an individual. Company, government that you were given authority to act as representative of an estate. They will be necessary to transfer real estate, closing bank accounts, stocks, etc.
- What are the specific duties of the Executor/Administrator?
COLLECT ASSETS AND INFORMATION
MANAGE THE ESTATE
DETERMINE AND PAY ALL TAXES AND DEBT
DISTRIBUTE THE ESTATE
- How long does this process take?
This process can take 9 months to one year.