Quality Representation for Your Estate & Probate Legal Issues
The loss of a loved one can be overwhelming to the ones that an individual has left behind. Unfortunately, such a loss can also become accompanied by tedious administration tasks that can be unbearable when handled alone. In your time of grief, the necessity of dealing with the complexities of his or her estate can be an overwhelming experience. When a close family member or loved one passes away, it is often difficult to think about retaining an attorney, paying estate and inheritance taxes, disclaiming assets where appropriate and the variety of other obligations and duties which may arise as a result of being appointed as an executor, trustee or administrator. Our attorneys understand the emotional impact that clients feel as a result of the loss and the uncertainty that can arise in attempting to administer or probate an estate. As a result, our office discusses the various options available regarding our representation. We take into account the emotional impact of our client’s loss, their time constraints and the costs associated with our services. By discussing these factors we tailor our services to provide efficient and effective representation to all of our clients. Let us help to ensure that all the responsibilities of estate administration are put into place accordingly.
What is Estate Administration or Probate?
Estate administration or probate is the method by which an individual’s estate is typically resolved. Where there is a Will, that document is admitted to probate by filing it with the Surrogate in the County where the Decedent was domiciled at the time of their death. Where there is no Will, an individual must apply to the Surrogate to be appointed as the Administrator for the Decedent’s estate. The Administrator can be a relative, creditor of the decedent or someone appointed by the Court. Before being appointed as an Administrator, the individual has to qualify based upon certain priorities given to the nearest living relatives. In addition, an Administrator, normally, has to obtain a bond to ensure that they properly administer the estate.
The existence or nonexistence of a Will dictates how and to whom the Decedent’s probate assets will pass upon conclusion of the estate. Where there is a Will, the probate assets will pass in accordance with its terms, however, where there is no Will, the probate assets will pass pursuant to the intestacy statutes for the State of New Jersey. Probate assets are those assets which pass under the Decedent’s Will and do not pass by way of contract. Assets which pass by way of contract are known as non-probate assets. Non-probate assets can include jointly owned real property, joint bank accounts, life insurance and retirement accounts, to name a few. These assets pass to those designated beneficiaries which are named in the contracts executed between the Decedent and the institution in question. Because these assets do not pass pursuant to the terms of the Will or the intestacy statutes, they are not considered a part of the probate estate. These assets, however, must still be addressed during the administration process as they are part of the Decedent’s estate for tax purposes.
As noted, where an individual passes away without a Will or with a Will which fails in part, intestacy occurs. The intestacy statutes dictate which of the Decedent’s surviving relatives will receive a portion of the Decedent’s estate and are applicable to all individuals who die intestate. Because of the foregoing, the intestacy statutes are generic in nature and do not account for the quality of the relationship between individuals, a beneficiary’s age (unless a minor), the creditors of a beneficiary, or the impact that an inheritance may have on a beneficiary’s receipt of governmental assistance.
There is no time like the present to prepare for the future. When you need skilled legal representation for probate law, come to Sherman Law Offices for our assistance. Contact us today at (856) 823-4086.