Critical Steps to Take Once a Will has been Probated

by: Begley Admin

When a will is not “self-proving,” a witness who signed the will or a bystander witness — one who witnessed the decedent and two witnesses signing the will, but did not personally witness the original signing of the document — must be present to authenticate the will. A will is “self-proving” if the decedent and two witnesses signed the will in the presence of a notary public or a New Jersey estate & trust administration attorney and contains language as required by statute. When a will is “self-proving,” there is no requirement that a witness be present for the will to be admitted to probate, as the notary or attorney effectively attested to the authenticity of the signatures.

Once the will has been probated, the New Jersey Rules of Court, specifically Rule 4:80-6, requires an executor of an estate to mail a Notice of Probate to all beneficiaries and the next-of-kin of the deceased at their last known addresses within 60 days of the probate of the will. Moreover, if a charity is included as a beneficiary, the executor must also serve a copy of the Notice upon the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. Within 10 days of the mailing, the executor must file a proof of mailing with the surrogate of the county in which the will has been probated. If the executor does not know the names or addresses of any of the beneficiaries, and cannot discover them with a “reasonable inquiry”, the Notice should be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county of probate. The purpose of the Notice of Probate is to put everyone who might have an interest in the estate on notice that the decedent has passed away and that a will has been probated, and to release to said people the identity of the executor. Those who receive the Notice may then request a copy of the probated will, which the executor is obliged to provide to them.

In the event the executor fails to either send the Notice or to file the proof of mailing, he or she may suffer adverse consequences. Specifically, for possible beneficiaries have four months, and those residing outside of the state have six months, from the date of probate to challenge a will — a time limit which may be extended if the executor fails or refuses to send the proper Notice. For recordkeeping, the Notice should be sent via regular and certified mail, and the proof of mailing should be filed in a timely fashion.

Begley Law Group is skilled in all the steps needed to properly administer a decedent’s estate, from initial probate to the final accounting. They are experienced in making this complex process a simple one for the family and executor or trustee. Every partner at Begley Law Group has been given the prestigious New Jersey Super Lawyers award and has more than a century of combined attorney experience.

To contact a New Jersey estate & trust administration lawyer visit:
Begley Law Group
509 S. Lenola Road, Building 7
Moorestown, NJ 08057
Tel: 800.533.7227
Fax: 856.273.1062