Probate & Estates

New Jersey probate and estates attorneys at Price and Price: A well-established elder law firm that has guided thousands toward their goals

Losing a loved one is never easy. If your loved one dies, a legal process known as probate begins. You may be appointed as the executor, the one entrusted with settling the deceased’s affairs.

Being an executor and being involved with the probate process can be complicated and at times may feel overwhelming. That’s where Price and Price, LLC can lend a helping hand. Our New Jersey probate and estates attorneys assist individuals and families in the process by helping to make sure the transfer of assets from the deceased to family, friends and loved ones is accurate and as smooth as possible.

Even if the process is straightforward, it’s important to have an experienced attorney you can trust who will stay on top of the details. By hiring a law firm that focuses exclusively on probate and related matters, you will save yourself considerable time and stress.

The attorneys at Price and Price have worked hard to build a reputation throughout Southern New Jersey as dependable and highly skilled legal professionals. We have helped thousands of clients over the past 40 years navigate through the system. We take a streamlined approach designed to reduce the risk of errors. We attribute our success to the fact that we focus exclusively on elder law.

We know you have questions about probate and estate administration, and we want to hear from you. Call 856.429.5522 to set up a consultation with us at our office in Haddonfield. If you prefer, we can communicate with you remotely by using Skype or FaceTime. By hiring Price and Price, the largest elder law firm in South Jersey, you get power, resources and experience.

Frequently asked questions about probate and estate administration

What is Probate / Estate Administration?

Probate or estate administration is the process of collecting a deceased individual’s assets, paying their debts, paying death taxes and distributing the remaining proceeds to beneficiaries.

How long does the probate process take in NJ?

Every estate has unique details and varying levels of complexity but there are certain guidelines. In our experience, a quick probate takes approximately nine months to a year. This can happen when the assets are well organized and there are no challenges to the estate. Larger and more complex estates can take much longer, sometimes up to several years. If the will is being contested then the probate will continue until the challenge comes to a resolution.

How to challenge a will in New Jersey?

If you are looking to challenge the validity of will in New Jersey the typical reasons to do so are:

  1. Lack of capacity – meaning the owner of the estate did not have a mental capability to make the will or changes to the will at the time the documents were created or changed.
  2. Undue influence – meaning the documents are a reflection of another person’s wishes more so than the owner of the estate.
  3. Fraud – meaning someone has either falsified documents or tricked the estate owner into executing an estate plan or executing a change to an existing estate plan.

If you are looking to challenge a will in New Jersey make sure to contact an attorney that is experienced in estate litigation. We have 40 years’ combined experience in estate litigation and would be happy to answer any questions you may have about your unique situation.

What should I do if a parent dies?

One of the first things you should do after the funeral proceedings are complete is call an experienced elder law and estate probate attorney who can give you the step by step checklist of what needs to be done based on your unique situation and review your parent’s will with you. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and dealing with financial issues while simultaneously going through the emotional turmoil of losing a loved one can be daunting. At Price and Price we will provide you with the care and guidance necessary to ease your stress and confusion during the probate and estate administration process.

We know you probably have many questions about estate planning. We invite you to read our frequently asked question section below. If you don’t see your question, please call us to arrange a consultation. We would be happy to hear from you and help you explore your options. Call 856.429.5522 or fill out the contact field on this page.

What is an Executor?

An executor is the person named in the will to manage the decedent’s estate.  The executor is in charge of the estate administration process – i.e. doing the four things that must be done in every estate: collecting the assets, paying the expenses, paying the taxes and paying the beneficiaries.  There can be two people named to share the job as executor – referred to as co-executors. Co-executors have things a little difficult because they must do everything together – the law does not allow for one co-executor to act independently of the other one.

What is an Estate?

An estate is all of the money and property a decedent owned at the time of their death.

It’s really that simple as far as a definition is concerned.  However, you have to be careful because the value of their estate may be less that you think.  The assets in the estate are subject to liens, mortgages and debts so just because someone has what seems like a lot of money and property it might not be as much as you thought because these things will reduce it.

There are also different categories of an estate.  There’s a probate estate and a non-probate estate. There’s a taxable estate and a non-taxable estate.  So, once you calculate the total estate you can then separate the estate assets into these different categories to better manage everything.  These asset classifications and their effects are all dealt with during the estate administration process.

What is an Estate Identification Number?

An estate identification number (also called an EIN) is like a social security number for an estate.  This is how the government can keep track of income and assets of the estate for tax purposes (yes, income earned by an estate is subject to income tax).  You will need an estate identification number in order to open an estate account. If you are working with an attorney to help with the execution or administration of an estate then the attorney can get the EIN for you.

What is an Estate Account?

The executor’s job is to collect the assets left behind by the decedent.  Assets held at banks and other financial institutions must be collected and placed in an estate account.  That is the account that holds all of the estate money that is going to be used to pay the estate expenses, taxes and beneficiaries.  The estate account will only hold the probate assets. Probate assets must be moved into an estate account before they can be paid out to anyone.

What are the Laws of Intestacy?

These are the laws that govern the estates of people who die without a will. They instruct on who can become the administrator of the estate and who will be the estate beneficiaries.  For the most part the estate administration process is the same whether someone dies with or without a will. The laws of intestacy fill the gaps that exist due to there not be being a will. Those are most frequently the appointment of a personal representative, the estate beneficiaries and waiving the requirement that the personal representative be bonded (if there is no will there will almost always be a bond).

What is a Tax Waiver?

A tax waiver is a document that shows that taxes have been paid or taxes didn’t have to be paid.  When a tax return is filed with the state then the state will issue tax waivers saying that all of the taxes have been paid or they didn’t have to be paid.  In certain situations, however, the executor can prepare a self executed tax waiver that says that certain requirements have been met by the estate and no taxes are due.  These waivers are needed to get money from financial institutions or to get the proceeds from the sale of real estate. For example, if the decedent had a bank account at the time of his passing then the bank is only supposed to release one-half of the funds in the account until a tax waiver is produced.  Another example is the sale of real estate – if you sell real estate but don’t have a tax waiver for the property then the title company is supposed to hold funds back in escrow until a tax waiver issued by the state is produced to them indicating that either all taxes were paid or none were owed.

What Does Intestate Mean?

Someone is said to die intestate if they die without a will. That’s it. If you die without a will you die intestate and the laws of intestacy will govern your estate. Those are the laws that direct who will become the administrator of your estate and who will be the beneficiaries.

If someone has a will at the time of their death then they will name their executor in their will and list the beneficiaries of their estate. Things are more straightforward – and often less expensive – when there is a will involved so you are well served to have a good, up to date, valid will.

What is an Estate Administrator?

When someone dies without a will there won’t be an executor.  This is because an executor is appointed in someone’s will. If there isn’t an executor then who is going to manage the estate?  The person who gets that job is called the estate administrator.

The job of the estate administrator is the same as the executor – they are in charge of the estate administration process – i.e. doing the four things that must be done in every estate: collecting the assets, paying the expenses, paying the taxes and paying the beneficiaries.  Since there isn’t a will there won’t be any instructions listing from the decedent naming the beneficiaries of their estate. Instead, the estate administrator is guided by statutes to determine who the beneficiaries of the estate are.

What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will?

In New Jersey, when someone dies without a will they are said to die intestate (compared to a testate estate which is when someone dies with a will) and their estate is controlled by the laws of intestacy.  The system is much the same as if someone has a will when they die. The surrogate appoints someone to manage the estate (referred to as an administrator as opposed to an executor). The administrator collects the estate assets, pays the estate expenses and taxes and then pay beneficiaries determined by state law.  Some of the things that make an intestate estate different, more complicated and expensive is determining who is going to be appointed administrator (or co-administrators), the need for a bond and clarifying who will end up as estate beneficiaries.

What is a Decedent?

A decedent is a person who has died.  The word is commonly used when you are discussing the person who died – i.e. this is the decedent’s will.  It is also used when discussing the owner of an estate – i.e. the decedent’s estate or the decedent’s property.

How will Price and Price help with my probate matter in New Jersey?

New Jersey families have turned to Price and Price for probate help because we consistently help them achieve their goals in an efficient manner designed to keep costs low and hassles to the client to a minimum. Typically, we take the following steps when probating a will on behalf of a client:

  • Accompany the executor to the Surrogate’s office
  • Complete the application to admit the will
  • Apply for bond if required
  • Establish bank accounts
  • Arrange for appraisals
  • Sell assets if needed
  • Defend against will contests / inheritance disputes

We ensure that the estate complies with all county, state and federal regulations and guidelines. Other steps we take when representing clients through the probate process includes:

  • Handling all correspondence with creditors
  • Interacting with heirs
  • Providing representation in the unlikely event of a will contest
  • Preparing death tax returns if required

Is administering a trust part of the probate process?

Yes. We can advise trustees or act as trustees for clients, wherever they may live in South Jersey.

Our attorneys can perform tasks as simple as explaining the provisions of the trust or as complex as dealing with estate and inheritance taxes if the estate is significant. While a trust does not have to enter the probate process, it may have stipulations that should be completed by an attorney – property transfers, ongoing tax requirements, or helping resolve disputes arising from the provisions of a trust.

Certain types of trusts, especially special needs trusts, may have been established for the care and protection of children or adults with disabilities and other special needs. It is important that trustees be aware of the need to protect the assets of the trust if the beneficiary receives government assistance such as SSDI, SSI or other federal, state or local benefits.

How to reach a probate and estate attorney in Haddonfield

Call us at 856.429.5522, contact us online or visit our South Jersey office in Haddonfield. If you are unable to come to our office, or prefer to communicate with us from your home, we offer Skype and FaceTime consultations.

Price and Price. Proven results. Personal service.

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Price & Price attorneys have received recognition from various groups and publications. Specific awards are noted on our attorney bios. More information about each of these awards and the methodology used for selection can be found on the following links. Super Lawyers and SJ Magazine 2017 Top Attorneys. No aspect of these accolades has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

HADDONFIELD
35 Kings Highway East #110
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
Phone: 856.429.5522