There is no definitive answer for how long probate takes in New Jersey. However, when you enter a will into probate, you will usually spend only a few minutes in your county Surrogate’s Office. The entire process of administering the estate or executing the will usually takes less than a year to complete, depending on the complexity of the estate. Many take much less time, only a few days or weeks to get everything in order.
Understanding The New Jersey Probate Process
In general, especially when compared to other states, New Jersey has a relatively simple, quick, and affordable probate process that applies to most estates.
Proving the Authenticity of the Will
Most modern wills include the signature of two witnesses and a notary, along with the notary stamp. If this is true of your loved one’s will, it is “self-proving.” This means the Surrogate, or the clerk, will only need to look at it before issuing the proper letters to name you executor or administrator.
If the will is not self-proving, there is a little more work to be done. You will need to have the two witnesses who signed it appear with you in the Surrogate’s Office or provide other proof the signature belonged to your loved one.
Paying for Probate
New Jersey charges probate fees based on the length of the will. This means a four-page will that distributes $1,500 in assets costs the same to enter into probate as a four-page will discussing a $1.5 million estate. This is in stark contrast to many states that charge steep probate fees for large estates. Heirs sometimes pay thousands to get the will entered into probate and validated in these states.
Your Trip to Probate Court
Most New Jersey wills cost under $200 to enter into probate, and the process is relatively straightforward. Do not let “probate court” intimidate you. There is little chance you will need to go into a courtroom or before a judge for this proceeding. Instead, you will likely meet with the local Surrogate or a clerk in their office. The Surrogate will look at and validate the will, issue paperwork naming you the executor and send you on your way.
There is little oversight for the rest of the process in most cases. This is different from many states, where the probate process includes significant control over the executor or administrator.
Probate Without a Will in New Jersey
Many estates will qualify for a summary probate process even when there is no will in place. “Small estate” probate allows you to request you be the administer of the estate and approves you to handle the assets. This is usually possible without court supervision through this process.
Even if your case does require court supervision, New Jersey allows more autonomy than many other states, and the process is relatively simple.
Avoiding Probate in New Jersey
Avoiding probate is possible. In some cases, New Jersey allows you to settle an estate without entering the will into probate at all. You only need to visit the Surrogate for probate if there are probate assets held by the estate (i.e., assets not already designated to a beneficiary).
Often, people with very straightforward estates will already have a named beneficiary on their assets. This is especially true when they only have a bank account, savings account, and life insurance policy. If there are no debts or other assets, there is no need to probate this type of estate. We can help you determine if you need to enter a will into probate and walk you through the process if you do.
Talk to a New Jersey Probate Attorney for Help with Your Loved One’s Will
At Bratton Law, our team understands the stress and uncertainty you may feel if you need to administer or execute your loved one’s estate after their death. We can offer you guidance and support, from entering the will into probate until you distribute the last asset. We will walk with you through the entire process, reducing your apprehension and helping you when you do not know what to do next.
We can explain New Jersey’s probate and estate laws and other important statutes that apply to your loved one’s estate. We will work with you to appraise assets, pay debts, calculate taxes, and distribute the funds and valuables from your loved one’s estate.
If you need help or advice about New Jersey probate and estate administration, call our office today at 856-857-6007 or use our online contact form to schedule a time to talk to a member of our team.