How does the probate process start?

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How Does The Probate Process Start

People in New Jersey may have wills or they may not when they pass away. Whether they have a will or not though does not change the fact that most of the time administration of their estate needs to go through probate. This is the legal process that allows people to transfer the property of the deceased to beneficiaries and pay any creditors they owed at the time of their death.

If people did have a will the probate process is run by the personal representative named in the will. Most of the time, the personal representative would be aware of their role prior to the death, but this does not mean that they know how the probate process works.

Information needed for probate applications

Like any process, the first step is to start the process. Probate begins with filing the appropriate application with the court. The application must contain the following information in order to start the process:

  • The address of the applicant
  • The name of the deceased and where they were living when they passed away
  • The date of the last will, if any, of the deceased
  • Names and addresses of the spouse, heirs and others who may receive something from the estate. If people do not know all of the addresses of these individuals, at least identifying them by name
  • The ages of any heirs who are minors at the time of the death
  • A certificate of death or other reliable evidence of the date of the death

Once people have gathered all of the required information for the application, they must file it with the court where the deceased was living at the time of their death.

Probate in New Jersey can be a long and at times confusing process. However, it is also necessary in order to properly and legally transfer the assets and property of the deceased to the beneficiaries named in a will or heirs at law if there is no will. Therefore, it is important that personal representatives understand their responsibilities.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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