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Burlington County Location:
Five Greentree Centre 
525 Route 73 North
Suite 104
Marlton, NJ 08053

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Camden County Location:
111 White Horse Pike
Haddon Hts., NJ 08035

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New Jersey Probate Law

Probate Case Study:
President Abraham Lincoln

     A personal representative of an estate has a fiduciary obligation to the beneficiaries of the estate to fulfill the directions of the deceased person as set forth in a Will or according to the intestacy laws if there is no Will. The Courts of New Jersey describe the fiduciary duty of a personal representative as follows:

It is elementary that the Executor is under a peremptory duty to account for the assets of the estate coming into his possession or knowledge; and if, through failure of the fiduciary duty, he is unable to do so, he is chargeable with their full value. It is a primary duty of one exercising such trust functions to gather the assets of the estate; and while it is incumbent upon him, in the discharge of this duty, to use only such care, skill, diligence, and caution as a man of ordinary prudence would practice in like matters of his own, it is also held to the upmost good faith.

In re Brueck’s Estate, 124 N.J. Eq. 62, 63 (E&A 1938).

     Proper estate administration implements the final wishes of your loved one and should include a coordinated effort with the family’s accountant, investment advisor, insurance counselor and other professionals to achieve the best possible results.

     Typical Steps in the administration process are:

  • Gathering and liquidating assets
  • Accessing bank accounts and retirement savings
  • Re-titling of assets
  • Conveying real estate
  • Paying final debts
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries and heirs
  • Identifying and locating heirs when necessary
  • Filing all required tax returns, including incomes and estate tax returns
  • Final inventory and accounting
  •      The New Jersey probate court (formally known as the Surrogate’s Court) has the responsibility to examine a Will to determine the following:

  • Whether the Will is valid;
  • Resolution of any objections to the will;
  • Whether any creditors are entitled to payment;
  • That all property remaining is distributed according to the terms of the Will.
  •      If the original Will cannot be found after a diligent search, there is a procedure recognized under the probate law of New Jersey to accept a copy into probate the valid Will of your loved one.

    Dying Intestate (Without a Will)

         A person dying without a Will results in an estate distribution according to the intestacy laws. When a person dies without a will, they are said to be “intestate.” In New Jersey, when a person dies intestate, an Administrator is appointed to handle the Estate in order of a pre-determined priority system. Administration of the estate is first granted to the surviving spouse or domestic partner of the intestate. The surviving spouse or domestic partner does not have to accept the role of Administrator. If they choose not to accept, or they do not exist, then it is granted to the remaining heirs of the intestate. It is not required that all heirs accept the role of administrator, some of the heirs may act in that role. If there are no heirs, or if the heirs do not claim the administration within 40 days after the death of the intestate, the Superior Court or Surrogate’s Court of New Jersey may appoint an administrator if the person is fit and applied to be an administrator.

    If you need an experienced probate attorney in New Jersey please contact us.



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    Copyright © 2000/2011 by New Jersey Attorney, John F. Renner. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of all or any part of this document, without prior permission of John F. Renner, Esq. is expressly prohibited.