The basics on New Jersey’s probate process

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The Basics On New Jerseys Probate Process

Your parents have always been a source of guidance and wisdom but once they pass away you may be left in charge of probating their estate, something you have never done before. It is natural to be confused by the New Jersey probate process. If your parents left a will naming you as executor or if they died without a will and the court appointed you as administrator, you must ensure the estate is properly probated.

What are the first steps in the probate process?

If your parents left a will, it can be brought to the Surrogate’s Office once your parents have passed. The issuance of letters and probate process will not begin until the 11th day following your parent’s passing. To begin the probate process, the executor/administrator files an application at the Surrogate’s office, along with an original will if there is one and a death certificate. After this the executor/administrator has 60 days to send a copy of the will to all devisees, spouses, heirs and next of kin.

What are the duties of the executor/administrator?

As an executor/administrator, you are responsible for collecting and managing the assets of the estate, pay any debts and taxes out of those estate assets, and then distributing the inheritance left to a person named in your parent’s will or the appropriate heirs per intestate succession if your parents did not leave a will. You may need to provide the court with an accounting of the administration of the estate. In general, executors/administrators receive a commission that is 5% of the estate corpus and 6% of the income made by the estate during the probate process.

Being selected as executor/administrator of your parent’s estate is an honor, but it can be a complicated process. Executors/administrators in New Jersey must ensure they uphold their duty of care to probate the estate effectively, ensuring no crucial step is overlooked. The estate administration process may seem confusing, but with the right help it can be done.


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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