Probate, which is the court-supervised administration of a deceased person’s estate, has a lengthy, costly reputation. In New Jersey, however, many estates qualify for a simplified probate process.

Learn how simple probate works in New Jersey, and determine whether your estate or a loved one’s estate may qualify.

Eligibility for simplified probate

This process is available for estates worth less than $20,000 for which the deceased person did not have a will, but does have a surviving domestic partner or spouse. In this case, the survivor will receive all assets less than $5,000 to repay valid creditor claims if applicable. When the person does not have a surviving spouse or domestic partner or will, the estate can qualify for simplified probate if it is worth less than $10,000.

The simplified probate process

If the estate in question qualifies, the deceased person’s heir can request the estate assets with a court affidavit. Unless the heir is a surviving spouse or domestic partner, he or she must have written consent of all other heirs to file the affidavit. This legal document must contain:

  • An inventory of the estate property and assets
  • The location of each of these assets
  • The names and contact information of each of the deceased’s heirs
  • The relationship of each of these heirs to the deceased

Non-probate assets

Even when the person had a will or his or her estate does not qualify for simplified probate, certain assets are exempt from the probate process:

  • Property held in a trust with a named beneficiary
  • Pension or life insurance benefits with a named beneficiary
  • Bank accounts and retirement accounts with a named beneficiary
  • Assets owned by the deceased person along with a surviving individual

The will executor can immediately transfer these assets to the survivor or benefactor. The New Jersey Surrogate Court in the county where the deceased person lived can provide more information about the process for doing so.

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