How a New Jersey Probate Lawyer Can Help You

The Chamberlain Law Firm

As we have discussed, probate can sometimes be slow, time-consuming, and complex. In that situation, nobody should have to go through the process alone. This is why we recommend using a local probate lawyer to guide you through. 

Because a New Jersey probate attorney is familiar with the local laws, they can support executors and beneficiaries throughout probate. Moreover, a lawyer can help resolve potential financial and legal matters that arise.

Most executors have minimal experience with estate administration, court filings, settling debts and financial obligations, appraising assets, and other matters. Having the skill and advice of a lawyer reduces doubt and confusion concerning the probate process. Importantly, an attorney’s guidance can help the executor avoid personal liability in the case of a mistake. 

Further, a probate attorney can help mitigate family conflict and Will challenges after a loved one’s death. If a will’s validity is disputed, an attorney can help the family determine whether there is evidence fraud or otherwise.

Supporting Executors and Beneficiaries

Whether probate is simple or complex, a probate lawyer is often retained to assist an executor of the estate through the probate process. The lawyer can help the executor locate and identify assets and distribute them per the terms of the Will. Probate lawyers can also help beneficiaries. For example, the lawyer can help resolve tax issues, sell property, or manage proceeds from the decedent’s life insurance policies.

There are a number of other ways a lawyer can assist executors and beneficiaries through a potentially puzzling probate process. In addition to the ways mentioned above, a lawyer can:

  • Provide legal advice.
  • Prepare necessary court documents to get letters testamentary, along with required filings throughout the process.
  • Provide guidance with paying taxes, bills, and other obligations of the estate.
  • Help obtain appraisals for valuing the decedent’s real property.
  • Assist in managing the checking account of the estate.
  • Help with estate or inheritance tax returns, if any are due.
  • Help with any estate recovery matters.
  • Assist with final court filings when assets are ready to go to the beneficiaries after all debts and taxes have been paid.

Determining Which Assets Move Through Probate

Some assets do not need to move through the probate process. A probate lawyer will help family members and beneficiaries determine which assets must move through probate and which do not. Non-probate assets include:

  • Assets that are co-owned with another person in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship or tenancy by the entirety. These assets automatically pass to the surviving joint owner.
  • Assets that have provisions for beneficiaries outside of a will. These may include investment accounts, IRAs, or 401(k) accounts that have already designated a beneficiary.
  • Life insurance disbursements.
  • Assets held in a revocable living trust.

Once the non-probate assets are identified, the estate must deal with the remaining assets. For assets that must go through probate, the insight of an experienced probate attorney can be invaluable to ensure that the estate complies with local laws and rules.

If There is No Will

When a loved one dies without an executed will, the estate will be disbursed according to New Jersey intestacy laws. If there is little in the way of valuable assets, this can be relatively simple. But where there are substantial assets, the probate process can be trickier. Moreover, the court will appoint an administrator who is likely unprepared for the role. In this situation, it would be a good idea to retain a New Jersey probate attorney to help navigate the process. 

The Difference Between a Probate Lawyer and an Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning attorneys advise clients on future matters concerning their own estate and draft wills, trusts, and other important documents. Probate attorneys, as we have explained, assist in handling estate administration after an individual dies. Many times an “estate planning” or “probate” attorney will be capable of practicing both areas of law.

Here at The Chamberlain Law Firm, we are happy to handle both your probate and estate planning needs. Set up a consultation with our experienced attorneys today by calling us at (201) 273-9763. For more estate planning tricks and tips, be sure to check out our Insight Articles.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. In the event you would like to speak with a lawyer about the specifics of your case, contact The Chamberlain Law Firm at (201) 273-9763 to schedule a consultation.

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