The Process of Probate in NJ

The Process of Probate in NJ

Probating an Estate- What are the first steps?

This is the first installment of a series of posts regarding the steps that an executor or administrator must take in the process of probating a will. Every estate is like a fingerprint, meaning everyone is different. Depending on the value or complexity of the estate, some executors or administrators might need to perform additional tasks, or some might not require as many tasks. Should an executor or administrator have any questions or doubts arise during the probate process, call an attorney or estate professional to avoid any major delay or leave yourself open to legal liability.

Before I meet with the county surrogate office, what needs to be done?

1) If the decedent received Social Security, contact the Social Security office: at (1-800-772-1213) to notify them of the decedent’s death. Most often, the funeral director will notify the IRS. Information regarding Social Security and Death benefits:

2) If the decedent was receiving a pension, contact the pension provider of the decedent’s death and date of death (if you do not know the provider’s contact information, call NJEPRC (973) 998-5410). Contacting the pension provider sooner than later is best to avoid overpayment and an estate restitution payment.

3) Locate a copy(s) of the will. If you are uncertain where copies of where the original will are located, contact all attorneys, CPA or financial professionals the decedent was in contact with.

4) Obtain Death Certificates with a seal from the Funeral Director. Depending on the complexity of the estate, you might require a number of them.

5)  Provide the original will to the Executor.

If an attorney drafted the original will document, do I have to use the same attorney to assist me in the probate process or settle the will?

No, you are not required to retain the attorney that drafted the will document or is in possession of the original will document. It is usually a good idea to get a couple of quotes before retaining an attorney to assist in estate administration.

What happens if the decedent owned a vehicle?

A vehicle owned by the decedent can be operated for thirty days after the date of death.  After thirty days, the title of the vehicle must be transferred by the executor or administrator into the estate’s property.

How can someone obtain the original will if it is in a safe deposit box?

Banks usually allow you to enter the safe deposit box if you have a copy of the will naming you as executor. Executors or administrators should also obtain copies of life insurance policies that might be located in the safe deposit box.

If I am named as an executor, what are my duties?

Executors and administrators have a fiduciary duty to perform the following tasks:

1) Identify, marshal and protect any assets;

2) Protect and secure the decedent’s residence and personal property.

3) Locate and identify any and all:

  • Bank and brokerage accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Stocks or Bonds
  • Properties
  • Vehicles
  • Debts or rents that are owed
  • Any asset that could be considered valuable to the estate

What if the executor or administrator is not sure they have identified all of the decedent’s assets?

Hopefully, the decedent left details of where their assets are located. If an executor is unsure they have located all of the decedent’s assets, you can perform a search. New Jersey Executor and Probate Resource Center can identify all of a decedent’s physical assets for an executor or administrator. Call (973) 998-5410 or for details.

What documents are required to probate a will?

1) The original will

2) A certified death certificate with a seal

3) A list of all the beneficiaries, next of kin or individuals (with their current addresses) who are interested in the will. New Jersey Executor and Probate Resource Center can provide if you don’t have the present addresses of all the individuals involved. Call (973) 998-5410 for information.

4) A check to cover the probate fees.

Let a Professional Help You With The Process of Probate in NJ

New Jersey Executor and Probate Resource Center is an entity specifically designed to assist executors and administrators throughout the process of probate in NJ with its suite of professional services.

If you are an executor or administrator and have questions or need assistance with the process of probate in NJ, please don’t hesitate to call us. You can reach us at (973) 998-5410, fill out our contact form, or email us at

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