Office of the Surrogate


Jeffrey W. Moran
County Surrogate

Ashley Fiore
Deputy Surrogate

Address:
118 Washington Street,
P. O. Box 2191
Toms River, NJ 08754-2191

map icon  Office Locations
home icon  Surrogate's Home


Telephone icon Phone: (732) 929-2011
Fax icon Fax: (732) 506-5087
Clock icon Hours: M-F 8:00am-4:30pm
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FAQ's

1) How do I begin the probate procedure?

The person that wishes to be appointed to represent the Estate will bring a certified copy of the death certificate and the original Will. While the Surrogate can begin the paperwork anytime after death, probate cannot be completed until the day following the tenth day after death.

2) Is the probate process expensive?

No. While fees are set by the New Jersey legislature, most probates cost less than $200.00.

3) Who has the right to be appointed when an individual dies without a Will?

The surviving spouse or domestic partner has the first right. However, any heir may be appointed assuming they obtain the appropriate renunciations from any other heir who has an equal or prior right to be appointed.

4) If an individual dies without a Will, what is the surviving spouse or domestic partner entitled to?

Where the surviving spouse or domestic partner has children of the same marriage and no stepchildren, the spouse or the domestic partner will inherit the entire estate.

If there is a child or children of the same marriage and the surviving spouse or domestic partner has a child or children of a prior union, then the spouse or domestic partner will take the first 25% of the estate, but not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $200,000.00, plus one-half of any balance. Decedent's children share the other half equally (from this marriage or any prior union).

If the decedent has children from a prior union, the spouse or domestic partner will take the first 25%, but not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $200,000.00, plus one-half of any balance. Decedent's children (from this marriage or any prior union) share the other half equally.

If there are no children, but the decedent is survived by parent(s), the spouse or domestic partner will take the first 25% of the estate, but not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $200,000.00, plus three-fourth of any balance. The parents will inherit the other one-fourth.

5) a. What is the procedure in a small estate without a Will or surviving spouse or domestic partner?

If a person dies without a Will or surviving spouse or domestic partner, but does leave heirs and the total value of the real and personal property does not exceed $10,000.00, one of the heirs with consent of the others may obtain an Affidavit of Heir in lieu of filing a formal Administration.

5) b. What is the procedure in a small estate without a Will when there is a surviving spouse or domestic partner?

If a person dies without a Will and is survived by a spouse or domestic partner, and the total value of the real and personal property does not exceed $20,000.00, the spouse or domestic partner may obtain an Affidavit of Surviving Spouse or Domestic Partner in lieu of filing a formal Administration.

6) Why do I need to post a bond if someone dies without a will?

New Jersey has determined that a bond must be posted that represents the full value of the real and personal property in the Estate. The bond acts as an insurance policy on the Estate to ensure that the assets are distributed properly. The Surrogate does not have the discretion or right to waive the requirement.

7) How does the surviving spouse or domestic partner access joint bank accounts or certificates of deposit?

Certain bank accounts or certificates of deposits may be owned with right of survivorship, which means that upon the death of one party to the account, the surviving spouse or domestic partner becomes the sole owner. The surviving spouse or domestic partner becomes the sole owner. The surviving spouse or domestic partner can fill out an affidavit of waiver or L-8 form at the bank to access the funds.

8) How may Surrogates certificates will I need?

A list of the Estate assets should be prepared to show the number of transfers that will need to take place. That number should reflect the required number of certificates. Additional certificates can always be requested from the Surrogate's office. Check with the particular bank or institution as to how many certificates will be necessary.

9) Do I need to file a formal accounting if I represent an estate?

The answer is no as most Estates in New Jersey are settled without formal court proceedings. A representative may, however, file an informal accounting with the court or obtain a written agreement/consent form from all of the beneficiaries to the Estate that dispenses with the accounting, approves the actions of the representative and provides for the method or manner of distribution.

10) How do I prove that a distribution or legacies were paid?

A document called a refunding bond and release can be utilized and signed by each beneficiary to the Estate. They are then forwarded to the Surrogate's office for filing. If the decedent dies without a Will, the bond posted can only be cancelled when the refunding bonds and releases are filed for all of the beneficiaries.

 Continue with more Frequently Asked Questions.

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