Probate/ Administer It Yourself

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Do You Need a Lawyer to Probate a Will in New Jersey?

When a loved one dies, many families are intimidated by the probate process. As a result, they end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to do things which they could do themselves with the proper guidance.

At the law firm of McHugh & Macri in East Hanover, New Jersey, we help families probate wills themselves, saving those fees. McHugh & Macri innovated the "do-it-yourself" probate process.

What is Involved in Administering an Estate?

Whether the estate is $10 thousand or $10 million, there are certain (estate administration) steps that must be taken when a person dies. During your conference with our CELA attorneys, we will review an estate checklist of what needs to be done.  As we go through this checklist, you decide whether you can do it or whether an attorney needs to help. For many of the steps, you don't need an attorney.

Many people think that an attorney will charge a percentage of the estate to administer it. At McHugh & Macri, we don't charge fees based on the percentage of the estate, since the amount of work an attorney does has little to do with the size of the estate. We charge an hourly fee for only those services that we provide.

Probate/Administer It Yourself

Every estate, whether probated or not and regardless of the size, has a number of steps which must be performed to complete the estate administration. The general overview of tasks is:

  • to locate and liquidate the resources
  • pay all just debts of the decedent, including taxes if applicable
  • distribute the residuary to the beneficiaries of the will or intestate estate.

McHugh and Macri have developed a technique successfully utilized by their estate clients for many years which significantly reduces the cost of administering the estate, including legal fees. The secret is that since many of the estate steps don't require the specialized knowledge of an attorney, you can "do it yourself", with our advice and guidance, without paying a % of the estate value. If the estate needs tax returns or has legal complexities, you engage the attorney only to handle those steps and it's billed at an hourly rate, not a % of the estate.

Here's how it works

  1. Contact McHugh and Macri before seeking probate. Why? Many times you can avoid the time and expense of probate since it may not be legally required.
  2. McHugh and Macri will establish an in-office or telephone estate conference with our estate attorney (not a para-legal) and will send you an estate administration checklist to be completed for that conference.
  3. At the estate conference, our attorney will present and review with you a checklist of the various issues which must be done to properly administer the estate. You decide which steps you will complete and whether the attorney needs to perform any steps.
  4. If probate is needed McHugh and Macri then establishes a meeting with the county surrogate office for you and advises what papers are required for you to do it yourself.

That's it! Simple, direct, and cost efficient. For a modest fee the client can administer the estate based on the expert advice provided by our estate attorneys.

If you're interested, contact our office 973-887-4254 and let us know that you are interested in a "probate/administer it yourself" conference.