Fair Lawn Probate Lawyer
Bergen County firm provides guidance to executors and administrators
Serving as the legal representative for a deceased loved one’s estate is a significant legal responsibility. The Paton Law Firm LLC in Fair Lawn handles the complicated tasks associated with the New Jersey probate process so that you can settle the estate efficiently and in accordance with the law. Whether your estate is relatively straightforward or highly complex, I have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you fulfill your legal duties.
The New Jersey probate process
As an experienced New Jersey trusts and estates lawyer, I can guide you through each critical step of the state’s probate process, including:
- Filing the will — If you have been named as executor in the decedent’s will, you can file the document in the Surrogate’s Court of the county where they resided and request appointment as representative for the estate. Once you’re designated as the legal executor, you will receive letters testamentary confirming your authority to act on the estate’s behalf.
- Notifying heirs — Once the will has been admitted to probate court, the executor has 60 days to mail notice to all of the heirs named in the document.
- Making an inventory — Assets that were owned by the decedent must be transferred into the estate and an accurate inventory of these items must be prepared and updated.
- Paying taxes and other expenses — Any debts or taxes owed by the decedent must be paid by the estate. After reviewing the scope of the estate and intended beneficiaries, I can advise as to whether any estate or inheritance taxes must be paid.
- Distributing the assets — After the necessary payments have been made and any claims against the estate have been resolved, the assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will and the estate can be closed.
Not every asset owned by a decedent passes through the probate system. Life insurance proceeds, funds held in jointly owned accounts and assets placed in a living trust don’t become part of the decedent’s estate. My firm can explain what will be distributed through probate before the process starts.
What is intestate succession?
When a New Jersey resident dies without a will, their property is allocated according to the state’s intestate succession law. This means that assets are distributed in accord with a priority system that is based on each surviving family members’ relationship to the deceased individual. For example, if someone dies while their spouse is still alive and only has children with that spouse, the surviving spouse receives all of the decedent’s estate. With no will, there is no named executor, but the court usually appoints someone close to the decedent to serve as administrator. Probating these estates can present special challenges, especially in situations where a beneficiary under the intestacy law has not been in touch with the decedent. This might occur if part of the estate must go to an estranged family member of the decedent, such as a distant sibling.
How long does probate take in New Jersey?
In the absence of a serious dispute or another significant delay, the probate process can usually be completed within a year. The executor or administrator for the estate may request that the court issue an Order Limiting Creditors, which gives parties with claims against the estate nine months to submit their claim. After reviewing the circumstances of your estate, I can advise as to whether any factor exists that might extend the typical timeframe. Whatever your situation entails, my firm will work diligently to settle the estate as promptly and efficiently as possible.
Contact an experienced North Jersey probate attorney for a free initial consultation
The Paton Law Firm LLC advises New Jersey clients on a full range of probate matters. To schedule a free consultation about your case at my Fair Lawn office, please call 201-470-4801 or contact me online.