Princeton Probate Lawyer
Princeton Probate Lawyer
For many people, the idea of going through probate, or dealing with the probate process, can be confusing and anxiety-inducing. If you have never served as the executor or administrator of a person’s estate, or been close to someone who has administered an estate, it can be difficult to understand what probate involves or how it works and whether probate is appropriate or necessary for your deceased loved one’s estate. Generally speaking, when a person dies with a will, probate will need to occur for the deceased person’s assets to be distributed according to the terms outlined in the will.
A dedicated Princeton probate lawyer can assist you throughout the process. Probate is critical for administering the estate of your loved one and ensuring that heirs receive their property. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm to find out more about how we can help you through probate.
Understanding the Princeton Probate Process
Although the term “probate” can be confusing, it is important to understand that it is simply a legal term that refers to the process through which a person’s will is validated and that person’s assets are ultimately distributed.
Under New Jersey law, probate is generally a process that is required when somebody passes away to distribute assets, pay the debts of the estate, and handle certain tax issues. In most cases, an executor or an administrator is named in the deceased’s will, and the executor is the party who becomes responsible for identifying the property of the deceased, paying the deceased’s debts, distributing assets to heirs who are named in the will, and handling certain estate tax matters. An executor is often a close family member, such as an adult child of the deceased.
How Does Probate Work in Princeton, New Jersey?
The probate process essentially begins with a validation of the deceased’s will. The court will need to ensure that the will meets the requirements of a valid last will and testament under New Jersey law. Depending upon the circumstances, one or more parties may be able to contest the will, attempting to invalidate it on grounds that it does not meet the requirements outlined under New Jersey law. There are a variety of reasons that a will can be contested and ultimately may be invalidated, from an improperly executed will to evidence that the deceased was not legally competent when the will was made.
After the will is validated, an executor of the deceased’s estate will be appointed. It is then the responsibility of the executor to take inventory of the estate, to pay creditors for any existing claims against the estate, to pay any federal and New Jersey estate taxes, to complete a final accounting of the estate, and then to distribute the remaining property of the deceased’s estate based on the terms of the will. Before remaining assets can be distributed to the deceased’s heirs, the court will need to approve the executor’s final accounting so that the deceased’s heirs can receive the assets they have been left in the will.
Eligibility for Simplified Probate in Princeton?
Not all probate processes are the same. While the regular probate process involves the steps outlined above, some estates may be able to go through a quicker simplified probate process. You should not assume that simplified probate is possible instead of regular probate until you have spoken with a probate lawyer in Princeton, but you can get a sense of whether the deceased’s estate may be eligible for the simplified probate process is permitted under New Jersey law.
For an estate to be eligible for a simplified probate process, the deceased’s estate cannot be worth more than $20,000, and the deceased must have either a surviving spouse or a single heir who is eligible to receive the deceased’s property.
Can I Avoid Probate Altogether in Princeton?
You may be wondering if it is possible to avoid probate. Generally speaking, if a person died and left a will, then the estate will likely need to go through the probate process. However, it is possible that many assets will not need to be probated to be distributed, even when there is a will that clarifies how certain property is to be distributed. The following are common types of property that can be distributed and do not need to be probated:
- Any kind of benefit plan or account on which there is a named beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy, a payable-on-death bank account, or a retirement account or pension;
- Property that is jointly owned by the deceased and another person through either joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety, such as real estate, bank accounts, and other assets; and
- Property that the deceased placed into a trust.
During the estate planning process, a person can speak with a Princeton estate planning attorney about options for avoiding probate, which can include naming beneficiaries on certain types of accounts, creating co-ownership of certain assets, or establishing a trust.
Seek Advice from a Probate Lawyer in Princeton, New Jersey
Determining how to handle probate, and how you should approach the probate process, can be daunting. You should know that our experienced Princeton probate attorneys can assist you. Many people who are named as the executor or administrator of a deceased person’s estate have no prior knowledge of the probate process or what is required under New Jersey law, but we can assist you from start to finish. Whether you have concerns about a possible will contest or questions about how to handle the debts and taxes of the state in a manner consistent with the requirements of state law, our firm is here to help. At Scott Counsel, P.C., we regularly represent clients in a wide range of cases that involve estate planning and its aftermath, including probate. Contact Scott Counsel, P.C. online or call us today at (856) 281-3131 to learn more about how we can assist you.
– When my son, who has Cystic Fibrosis and CF related diabetes, was suddenly and unexpectedly removed from his Medicaid program, we were devastated and frightened not knowing where we would get the resources to pay for his extremely high priced prescriptions. Justin was the attorney who handled our case. From the very beginning, he proved to be very thorough and experienced with navigating the process of reversing the Medicaid decision. However, it was his apparent kind, caring nature that made us feel the most at ease. Justin was successful in securing a continuation of benefits for my son, and we are extremely grateful for having his expertise during this most stressful ongoing process. Thank you, Justin!
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