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The Gloucester County Surrogate Court is now open by appointment only. Our staff welcomes you to visit in person to conduct all business with the Court. Please call 856-853-3286 to discuss your individual issue and to schedule an appointment. To learn more, please view what to bring to our office.
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The Surrogate is a constitutional officer who is elected for a five year term. The Surrogate is the Judge of the Surrogate Court and Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court Probate Part.
The Surrogate is responsible for probating Wills and other Estate Matters, supervising minors’ trust funds, and serves as the clerk of the court for adoptions, Adult Guardianships, and all probate matters.
Upon the death of a Testator or Testatrix (maker of the last will and testament), the probate procedure can begin. This is a legal process which the Surrogate establishes the genuineness of the will and appoints an Executor or Executrix.
Wills are not registered with the Surrogate Court. The original last will and testament will be filed in the Surrogate Court upon admission to probate.
Yes. The Gloucester County Surrogate’s Court is now open by appointment only. Our staff welcomes you to visit in person to conduct all business with the Court.
Please call 856-853-3286 to discuss your individual issue and to schedule an appointment.
When there is no will, an Administrator is appointed by the Surrogate. The surviving spouse has the first right to apply for the position. Where one or several heirs (persons of the same or closer degree of kinship) seek to be appointed, all the other heirs must renounce their right to be appointed.
In most cases, a surety bond must be furnished to cover the value of the real and personal property of the estate.
The purpose of the bond is to protect the heirs and creditors of the estate. Pursuant to New Jersey Statutes Annotated 3B:15-1, the order of appointment includes a requirement that the Administrator post bond.
A Refunding Bond and Release must be filled out by every beneficiary of the estate, including the Executor/Administrator, once all the debt has been paid and the money has been distributed. This form releases the Executor/Administrator from all claims and demands whatsoever in respect to the estate of the decedent. The Surrogate’s office files the original Refunding Bond and Release form for a filing fee of $10 and the bonding agency gets a file stamped copy.
If the decedent dies without a will, there is statue which determines to whom the decedent’s property is to be distributed according to the degree of family relationship, New Jersey Statutes Annotated 3B:5-3 and New Jersey Statutes Annotated 3B:5-4.
There are two procedures:
Both procedures can only be done when the decedent did not have a will. If there is a will, it must be probated.
The decedent’s personal representative should make a list of all decedent’s next of kin, degree of relationship, address and age.
The short certificate acts as evidence of the authority of the personal representative to act.
A short certificate will be needed for the transfer or sale of every asset in the decedent’s name alone. Determine how many assets there are and that is how many shorts will be needed.
Typically, a short certificate is valid for up to a year. However, some places will only accept one dated within 60 days.
No. Power of Attorney is a legal document that becomes null and void once the principal dies. You will need to be appointed the Executor or Administrator in order to transfer or sell any estate assets. The Power of Attorney ceases upon the death of the decedent.
To obtain a certified copy of a death certificate go to the municipal building of the town where the person died.
The Executor or Administrator is, in general, required to:
Yes. Within 60 days of the date of probate a notice in writing that the will has been probated, the place of and date of probate, the name and address of the personal representative and a statement that a copy of the will shall be furnished upon request.
The Executor/Administrator will pay the debt out of the estate assets. Generally, the Executor/Administrator should open an estate checking account which can be used to receive and disburse funds.
If claims are made, the Executor does not have to automatically accept the claims but can dispute them and has three months to make any decisions.
Generally, an Executor or Administrator is entitled to a commission of 5% on the estate assets and 6% on the income generated during the period of administration.
The Executor is permitted to remove the original will, as well as the deed to a cemetery plot and certain life insurance policies, from the decedent’s safe deposit box before probate in the presence of a bank officer.
The Surrogate will advise the personal representative as to the proper procedure in order to allow the Will to be admitted to probate. This procedure normally involves a formal hearing before a Judge of the Superior Court.
Formal accounting is a complex breakdown of all:
It is generally prepared by an attorney.
No. You do not need a formal accounting unless ordered by court or you elect to do so.
A divorce operates as revocation of any bequest made to your former spouse or any appointment of your former spouse as executor, but in all other respects the will is still effective.
Yes, but this is not recommended. Without professional guidance and advice it may not be legally sufficient to be admitted to probate. "Do it yourself Wills", often do not contain all the necessary components that are required by law.
You should keep your will in a safe place such as a fire proof strong box. Your Executor should know exactly where it is.
Yes. No matter how small of an estate a will is still necessary. It is important to safeguard your estate and designate who you want in charge.
A living trust is a document by which the owner of an asset transfers ownership of that asset to a trustee. The alleged benefit of the trust is to remove that asset from one’s probateable estate by relinquishing ownership. According to the marketers of these trusts, removing assets from one’s probatable estate will result in significant tax savings and will avoid the probate process.
However, a living trust is very costly and in most cases not necessary. Avoiding probate is not always a guarantee. Even if there is just one titled asset, such as a vehicle, left out of the trust probate will still be necessary.
Also, a vast majority of estates are not subject to any federal or estate taxes. Generally, the probate process is very easy. There is only a ten day waiting period from the date of death before a will can be probated. Once that time has passed, the process can begin and be completed within a few days if the will is properly executed and no one is contesting the probate.
Senior citizens especially are cautioned to be aware of solicitation for living trusts.