Probate is a judicial process that proves the will is a valid legal document that dictates the true desires of the deceased. The goal of this process is to prevent fraud after the death of the will’s creator and to ensure the chosen executor understands the task and follows through with the instructions in the will.
The modern probate process is usually relatively simple thanks to self-proving wills that only require the court to check that signatures and notary stamps are present. Still, we hear many questions from our clients about issues during the probate process.
Does Every Will in New Jersey Require Probate?
Not every will needs to go through probate. A New Jersey estate administration lawyer can offer advice based on your specific situation, but in general you will not need to admit a will for probate if the deceased party was married and the couple owned all their assets jointly.
There may be other situations where a will does not need to go through probate. We can help you understand what you need to do as an executor or heir when we meet to discuss your circumstances.
If the will does require admittance to probate, there is no reason to stress. In most cases with modern wills prepared by an attorney, this process is simple.
You will need to visit the County Surrogate, known as Surrogate’s Court. However, this “court appearance” is usually little more than a visit to the office of the Surrogate. The Surrogate is an elected official who has an office in the local county courthouse or administration building. In some larger municipalities, probate may occur through a clerk in the Surrogate’s office.
What If a Will Is Not “Self-Proving”?
When an estate planning lawyer creates a will, they are usually “self-proving.” Many wills created without the help of an attorney are also self-proving. This simply means there were several witnesses who signed the will, and a notary signed and stamped the document as well. With a self-proving will, the Surrogate or their clerk simply needs to look at the signatures and check the authenticity of the notary stamp. When a will does not have a notary stamp and the proper witness signatures, the probate process will require you to produce a signature that matches your loved one’s signature on the will.
How Can I Get In Touch With a New Jersey Estate Administration Lawyer?
The estate administration attorneys at Bratton Scott can help you handle any issues that arise during the probate process. We can walk you through this process, and provide advice and guidance while you administer the estate of your loved one. If you have questions about New Jersey probate or face a possible dispute over a family member’s will, you can reach our office today at 856-857-6007.