Probate Administration

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Do You Need to Go Through the Probate Process in New Jersey?

When a spouse or family member dies, the survivors are often at a loss about what they are required to do concerning the deceased loved one's estate. Do they need to go through the probate process? What if the person did not have a will?

At the law firm of McHugh & Macri in East Hanover, New Jersey, we have been guiding individuals and families through the probate process since 1978. We pioneered the "probate it yourself" program which offers the alternate of a "limited" legal representation to families who are willing to share the administration duties, at a significant savings on legal fees. We do not charge a "percentage" of the estate as a fee.

When Do I Need to Go Through Probate?

Just because a person has a will doesn't mean you are legally required to probate it. When spouses own property jointly, such as the house, cars, checking account or saving accounts, there is nothing to probate since those assets will pass by law to the joint owner. Retirement accounts and life insurance benefits also pass by law to the named beneficiary "outside the will" and without need to probate.

Caution! Although the probate process may be unnecessary, there are certain legal administrative steps which must be taken when someone dies, regardless of the value of the estate, including potential inheritance or estate tax returns. Other steps you can do yourself. However, you should always have a conference with an experienced probate lawyer to find out what needs to be done. If you need to file an inheritance or estate tax return or final income taxes, a seasoned probate attorney usually saves enough taxes to pay their entire legal fee and leave a balance.

Probate and Estate Planning

A death is not the end of the estate planning process. For the survivor, it is only the beginning. If you have inherited the estate of a spouse or parent, there are certain planning steps that the survivor needs to do to preserve those assets if you need future long-term care or need to shelter your inheritance from death taxes. Your will and other documents should be revised, especially if you are the surviving spouse.

Learn More: Click on Elder Law and Asset Preservation and Probate It Yourself

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For a free initial consultation with one of our CELA partners, call 973-887-4254 or fill out the "Fee Free" contact form on this Web site.