How does the probate process work in Bergen County?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2023 | Estate Planning |

According to Bergen County Surrogate’s Court, it takes about an hour to probate a will in this county. However, probating the will is only part of the probate process.

Probate is the legal process that takes place when someone passes away, leaving behind assets and property. It provides a structured way of handling a deceased person’s estate and involves several key steps.

Filing the will

The process begins when an individual with a will, the decedent, passes away. If there’s a will, someone must present it to the Surrogate’s Court, which serves as the starting point for probate.

Appointing an executor

The court appoints the individual the will names as the executor. In cases where there is no will or if the executor declines the role, the court appoints an administrator to oversee the estate. The executor or administrator takes on the responsibility of managing the estate’s assets and carrying out the decedent’s wishes.

Notifying heirs

One of the first tasks of the executor or administrator is to notify all heirs and beneficiaries about the probate proceedings. This involves informing them about the decedent’s passing, the existence of a will and the plan for the distribution of assets.

Creating an inventory

An essential part of the probate process is creating an inventory of all the assets the decedent owned at the time of their passing. This includes property, bank accounts, investments and personal belongings. This inventory serves as the basis for the distribution of assets.

Notifying creditors and settling debts

The executor or administrator is also responsible for notifying potential creditors of the decedent’s passing. Creditors have the opportunity to file claims against the estate to seek repayment for any debts.

Before distributing assets to heirs and beneficiaries, the executor must settle any outstanding debts and taxes.

Distribute assets and present final accounting

Once the executor settles all debts, taxes and administrative expenses, he or she distributes the remaining assets among the beneficiaries according to the decedent’s will or, in the absence of a will,  New Jersey’s intestate succession laws. This distribution takes place under the supervision of the court. The executor will then provide an accounting to the court, which will then officially close probate.

Probate in Bergen County, New Jersey, is a structured legal process for handling a deceased person’s estate that involves several key steps. Ultimately, the probate process ensures a fair and orderly distribution of assets to beneficiaries while settling the decedent’s outstanding debts and obligations.