The process of probating an estate for a deceased loved one can be emotional and difficult to navigate, which is why working with our credible Princeton probate attorney at Inderjit K. Sidhu Esq. LLC is essential. The death of a loved one can be overwhelming and we know that making final arrangements can be heart-breaking during your time of grief.
Even in cases where the probate process gets especially complex, our estate planning law firm can help you take the necessary steps. It is our goal to help you honor your loved one’s last wishes and to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible, so you can focus on spending time with your family and grieving your lost loved one. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with our skilled New Jersey estate planning attorneys to learn more about the probate process.
Why Do I Need a Probate Attorney in New Jersey?
The loss of a loved one is never an easy experience. Unfortunately, the grief you feel following their loss may be compounded by frustration at the often complicated legal process known as probate. If you are planning for your own probate process or have been tasked to oversee a loved one’s estate, it is crucial to seek legal advice from our trusted Princeton probate attorneys as soon as possible.
At Inderjit K. Sidhu Esq. LLC, we:
- Develop customized estate planning solutions based on your family’s unique goals, dynamics, and financial situation.
- Strive to make the probate process and estate administration easy to understand.
- Provide the informative and customized legal guidance you need to make informed decisions on every detail involved in the probate process.
- Provide comprehensive legal advice to clients dealing with matters of immigration, residential and commercial real estate transactions, corporate law, and estate planning.
Our legal team will treat you and every client with courtesy and respect because we understand how important these matters are to you and your loved ones. We are attentive to the needs of the people we represent and never lose sight of their goals or concerns. We are here to help make the difficult, emotional, and confusing process as easy for our clients as possible. Call us now and schedule a free 15-minute consultation with our New Jersey lawyers to discuss your situation and explore your legal options.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process that involves the judicial determination of whether a will is valid and the process of settling or administering an estate under the supervision of the probate court. This process aims to prevent fraud after the death of the will’s creator and to ensure the appointed executor understands the task and follows through with the instructions in the will.
With or without a will, a deceased person’s estate must be settled and probated. If a person dies intestate, or without a will, the probate court will distribute the deceased person’s assets according to state intestacy laws. Our knowledgeable Princeton probate attorney can help you navigate the legal intricacies of probate law.
When is Probate Necessary?
Not all estates are required to go through probate. To determine if probate is necessary, the assets owned by the decedent at the time of death must be classified as either “probate assets” or “non-probate assets”. Understanding the difference between probate and non-probate assets is extremely important. Whether or not an asset is a probate or non-probate property will determine how it will be distributed after death.
Probate administration only applies to probate assets, which are the assets that the decedent owned at the time of death. Non-probate assets will pass to your beneficiaries outside of the will, and outside of the probate process. Our qualified Princeton probate lawyer can help you determine whether your assets must go through the probate process.
The property or other assets that must go through probate are:
- Real property titled solely in the decedent’s name
- Any bank, retirement, stock, or financial account solely under the decedent’s name
- Cars or vehicles titled solely under the decedent’s name
Other properties and assets that do not go through probate are:
- Real estate property owned in joint tenancy
- Any property held in a living trust
- Bank and investment accounts with transfer-on-death beneficiaries
- Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries
- IRA and retirement accounts with transfer-on-death beneficiaries
- Lifetime gifts and distributions
How Does Probate Work?
Every estate and every will is different. The exact probate process can vary depending on the nature of assets, the instructions left in the will, the beneficiary, and the creditors the estate has. Our top-ranking Princeton NJ, probate attorney can help you understand how the probate process works.
File a Petition to Begin Probate
Upon the decedent’s death, the process is initiated by filing a “Petition for Probate” with a local probate court. The probate petition typically consists of an application to be officially appointed as the executor, the death certificate, and the original will of the decedent.
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.
Appoint a Personal Representative
A personal representative is a person who is responsible for handling, overseeing, and distributing the estate. Before doing so, they swear under oath to the court that they will distribute the decedent’s assets according to state law.
The probate court appoints the executor or personal representative named in the will. If appointed by the decedent’s will, the representative is sometimes known as an “executor” and is empowered by “Letters Testamentary.” If there is no will, the court will appoint someone to handle the estate. The representative can sometimes be called “administrator” and is empowered by “Letters of Administration.”
Give Notice to Beneficiaries and Creditors
The personal representative has the task of identifying beneficiaries and notifying creditors of the probate administration. Some states may also require you to publish a notice in the newspaper.
Inventory Assets and Determine the Value of the Estate
Before the estate can be distributed, it must be inventoried and appraised. An inventory should include bank accounts, personal property, or real estate. The personal representative also must determine the value of all probate assets. Depending on the estate, this may be one of the most time-consuming responsibilities of a personal representative.
Pay Debts and Taxes
The debts usually paid from the estate are last illness expenses, funeral expenses, and estate taxes. The executor or personal representative then pays any valid creditor claims on behalf of the estate.
Distribute Remaining Assets
After the debts and taxes have been paid, the remaining assets are distributed according to the instructions in the decedent’s will. When the decedent dies intestate, the state laws of intestate succession will determine how the estate will be distributed.
Close the Estate
Once all assets have been distributed, the executor must submit receipts and records of all the assets of the estate and income generated on those assets to the court and then ask for the estate to be closed. The report also details all debts paid and distributions made to beneficiaries and heirs. When the court accepts the report, the personal representative or executor will be discharged from their probate duties and formally close the probate estate.
Call Our Experienced Princeton Probate Attorney Now!
When a loved one passes away, many financial and legal issues need to be addressed and settled by the surviving family members through probate. Probating an estate is an often challenging and complex process. It also can include significant tax issues that can arise even in relatively modest probate cases.
Some people opt to handle the probate and estate administration on their own, but when you have a seasoned Princeton probate attorney on your side, it may reduce the chances of a dispute and give you peace of mind about navigating the entire probate process. At Inderjit K. Sidhu Esq. LLC, we understand that many of our clients face difficult challenges during the estate planning and probate process.
From proving that a will is valid, to the appointment of an executor or administrator, our estate planning law firm can assist in the most complex and substantial estates. We are committed to helping clients protect their families and their assets for numerous generations. Contact our law office now and schedule a free 15-minute consultation with our competent New Jersey estate planning lawyers so we can guide you through the probate process.