Helpful Information > Frequently Asked Questions

1) Is the probate process expensive?

No. While fees are set by the New Jersey legislature, most probates cost less than $200.00. Click here for the Fee Schedule

2) 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.

3) 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. 

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

Still have questions? Contact the Office of the Surrogate.





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3 High Street, Suite 1, Newton, New Jersey 07860  (In the Historic Sussex County Court House)   Phone (973)579-0920   Fax (973)579-0909
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Frequently Asked Questions