Facebook Twitter
homeHome | Elected Officials | Hunterdon County Surrogate's Court | What to Do First: A Primer on Probate and Administration

THE HUNTERDON COUNTY
SURROGATE'S COURT

Surrogate's Seal
RECORD KEEPERS SINCE 1804
SUSAN J. HOFFMAN, HUNTERDON COUNTY SURROGATE
65 Park Avenue - PO Box 2900 - Flemington, NJ 08822-2900
Directions to Office
Hours: Monday - Friday 7:45 - 5:15
908-788-1156 * Fax (908)788-1586
surrogate@co.hunterdon.nj.us


WHAT TO DO FIRST:
A Primer on Probate and Administrations

As your Hunterdon County Surrogate, I and my staff are available to help you in any way we can. Please contact the Court should you have any questions.

This list of helpful hints will assist you during the probate and administration process:

BEFORE YOU COME TO THE SURROGATE'S COURT

To make the process easier, information sheets are available (for potential executors or administrators).

Please call us at Telephone: (908) 788-1156 to request an information sheet (can be faxed or mailed).

You can complete the information sheet(s) and mail/fax them back to the Court at: Fax: (908) 788-1586

Visit the Surrogate's Court on the Internet: www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/depts/surrog/messsage.htm

TO TOP

 

FIRST STEPS

  1. Contact Social Security: (1-800-772-1213), if the decedent was a recipient (Funeral Director will do this, but if you have further questions or receive a check and are unsure how to proceed).
  2. Locate the decedent’s will: This may mean contacting family members, the decedent’s attorney, or looking through the home or safe deposit box. of the decedent.
  3. Give the original will to the person named as Executor.
  4. If the decedent was a veteran, you may wish to check on veteran’s benefits (1-800-827-1000).
  5. Obtain from the Funeral Director one or more death certificates with a seal.


    Where do I get a death certificate if some time has passed?
    One can be obtained in the local municipal offices where the person passed away.

    What do I do with a vehicle registered ONLY in the decedent’s name? A vehicle in the decedent’s name may be operated for 30 days after the date of death by immediate family or any licensed driver authorized by the decedent’s family. Thereafter, the title must be transferred by the executor or administrator. One must be deemed executor or administrator by the Surrogate PRIOR to the transfer.

TO TOP

 

IF YOU ARE NAMED EXECUTOR

1. Secure the estate by:

  • Locating and protecting items of value;
  • Providing adequate security for the decedent’s home if it is vacant to protect both the real and personal property; and
  • Locating bank books and accounts.

2. Apply for probate of the will

Hunterdon County Surrogate’s Court
65 Park Avenue, Flemington 08822
Office Hours: Monday-Friday
7:45 to 5:15
*Walk-ins are welcome
**Wheelchair available at Front Desk of Justice Center, upon request.

What you will need to probate the will:

A. The original will
B. A death certificate with a seal
C. Addresses of all next of kin and all persons named in the will
D. A blank check or cash for fees, which will vary with each estate

*Note: Although the Will cannot be probated until 10 full days after the date of death, application can be made at anytime earlier, if it is more convenient. In most cases, the process will only take about 20 minutes to apply for probate.

3. The Surrogate’s Court will issue the executor Surrogate’s Certificate’s (Letters Testamentary) which are used to transfer the assets of the decedent’s estate. They are the executor’s authority to act for the estate.

TO TOP

 

If There Is No Will

IF YOU DIE WITHOUT A WILL - WHO GETS WHAT

The intestate share of decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner is:

a. The entire intestate estate if:

(1) No descendant or parent of the decedent survives the decedent; or

(2) All of the decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse or domestic partner and there is no other descendant of the surviving spouse or domestic partner who survives the decedent;

b. The first 25% of the intestate estate, but not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $200,000.00, plus three-fourths of any balance of the intestate estate, if no descendant of the decedent survives the decedent, but a parent of the decedent survives the decedent

c) The first 25% of the intestate estate, but not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $200,000.00 plus one-half of the balance of the intestate estate:

(1) If all of the decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse or domestic partner and the surviving spouse or domestic partner has one or more surviving descendants who are not descendants of the decedent; or

(2) If one or more of the decedent’s surviving descendants is not a descendant of the surviving spouse or domestic partner.

Any part of the intestate estate not passing to the decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner or the entire intestate estate if there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner, passes in the following order to the individuals designated below who survive the decedent:

a. To the decedent’s descendants by representation;

b. If there are no surviving descendants, to the decedent’s parents equally if both survive, or to the surviving parent;

c. If there is no surviving descendants or parent, to the descendants of the decedent’s parents or either of them by representation;

d. If there is no surviving descendant, parent or descendant of a parent, but the decedent is survived by one or more grandparents:

(1) half of the estate passes to the decedent’s paternal grandparents equally if both survive, or to the surviving paternal grandparent, or to the descendants of the decedent’s paternal grandparents or either of them if both are deceased, the descendants taking by representation;  and the other half passes to the decedent’s maternal relatives in the same manner; but if there is none the entire estate passes to the decedent’s relatives on the other side in the same manner as the half.

e. If there is no surviving descendant, parent, descendant of a parent, or grandparent, but the decedent is survived by one or more descendants of grandparents, the descendants take equally if they are all of the same degree of kinship to the decedent, but if of unequal degree those of more remote degree take by representation.

f. If there are no surviving descendants of grandparents, then the decedent’s step-children or their descendants by representation.

TO TOP

 

SMALL ESTATE - AFFIDAVITS

Affidavits are a form of administration, and can only be used when there is no will.

Spouse’s Affidavit: If the decedent is survived by a spouse and the total assets in ONLY the decedent’s name are less than $20,000, a “Spouse’s Affidavit” can be issued by the Surrogate. Copies are used to transfer the property, which may be individually listed (e.g. an automobile)

Next-of-kin Affidavits: can be issued by the Surrogate for estates under $10,000.

TO TOP

 

QUESTIONS ON TAXES

For information regarding taxes, please call NJ Transfer Inheritance & Estate Tax Division:

(609) 292-5033, or
(609) 292-5035, or
(609) 292-7147

US Tax Information
(800) 829-1040

*Note: General information pamphlets on NJ Inheritance taxes available at the Surrogate’s Court.

TO TOP