What is probate?


Very simply, “Probate” refers to the process of winding up and distributing a person’s estate.  This process starts when the person passes away.  A person who passes away is called the “decedent.”

When a person dies with a will, the person is considered “testate,” a term which means they had a Testamentary Will in place prior to their death.  The winding up and distribution of their estate will be done according to the plan set out in the Will.

When a person dies without a Testamentary Will, the person is considered “intestate,” which means they did not have a plan in place prior to death. An intestate person’s property will be distributed in accordance with New Jersey law.

In New Jersey, probate is supervised by the Courts.  The Judicial official in charge of the probate process is called the Surrogate.  Each county has a Surrogate that supervises and administers the probate process.  If there is a dispute or challenge to the probate process, the Surrogate’s Court makes the final decisions regarding the decedent’s estate.


Regardless of

Probate, which is a court-supervised of sorting and administering a person’s estate, begins upon a person’s death. A person can pass away either intestate or testate. If the person passes away testate, the property will be transferred to the beneficiaries named in the decedent’s will. If the person passes away without a valid will, the property will be distributed according to state’s intestate succession laws. Either way, the probate court will be in charge of supervising, distributing, and administering the decedent’s estate. The court will also be in charge of settling any legal disputes regarding the estate or the validity of a will.

In a will, a person usually names a specific person as an executor, who will be responsible for managing the decedent’s affairs. If the decedent fails to name an executor or dies intesetate, the probate court will appoint a personal representative to fulfill the executor duties.