New Jersey Estate and Probate Matters

In addition to injury matters, the Law Office of Philip T. Ciprietti provides representation in estate and probate matters. Below you will find two of the many estate/probate cases this office has undertaken.

New Jersey Law requires that one seeking appointment as Administrator notify any and all interested heirs and receive the consent to allow the Surrogate to appoint that person as Administrator.

Missing Will

This office was involved in an unusual case where a decedent had prepared and executed an original Will which unfortunately at the time of his death was missing.  A diligent search failed to reveal or locate the whereabouts of the original Will.

New Jersey Law requires that only an original Will and not a photocopy be admitted to Probate.  Fortunately, the heirs did uncover a fully executed carbon copy which had the decedent’s signature.  This was not a photocopy but an executed carbon copy.

Unfortunately, New Jersey Law does not recognize an executed carbon copy for admission to Probate.  An action was brought in the Chancery Division, Probate Part of the State of New Jersey Courts requesting that the Court allow the admission of the executed carbon copy in lieu of the original Will.  The Court required that a Notice of Hearing be published in the newspaper to allow any potential interested parties to come into Court to contest the Will.  No contesting parties appeared on the return date scheduled for the hearing.  Fortunately at that time, there was testimony by the surviving son and other witnesses that the executed carbon copy did bear the original signature of the decedent, and the Court allowed the executed carbon copy to be admitted into Probate.

At the time of the decision, the Court did make it very clear that New Jersey Law does not generally allow admission into Probate of an executed carbon copy notwithstanding the fact that it had the original signature of the decedent.  The Court further stated that it would not have allowed the admission of the executed carbon copy if there had been any opposition filed.  New Jersey Law is very clear that only an original Will with proper execution and witnesses be allowed to be probated.  Ideally, today, an original Will must bear an original signature of the decedent with two disinterested witnesses with a notary seal acknowledging same.

Will Contests or Attacks Upon a Will

Estate matters can also involve Will contests or other attacks upon the Will.  Recently, this office represented an individual who was the granddaughter of the decedent who had been adopted as a child.  Unfortunately, the decedent died without a Will or otherwise the Will was never located resulting in the matter going before the Surrogate’s Court by way of what is called intestacy.

The Intestate Statute is set up as New Jersey Law in the event that there is no Will.  In this case, it allowed equal shares to the surviving children including adopted children.  Therefore, my client was entitled to receive an equal share with her other brothers and sisters.  One of the sisters applied to the Court to become what is known as the Administrator of the Estate of the decedent and was in fact designated as Administrator by the Surrogate’s Office.

New Jersey Law requires that one seeking appointment as Administrator notify any and all interested heirs and received the consent to allow the Surrogate to appoint that person as Administrator.  For whatever reason, the person seeking administration failed to name, include or list the adopted daughter as a potential heir.  Where there is no Will, the Surrogate’s Office requires the posting of a Bond by the Administrator.

A lawsuit was filed by this office against the Administrator of the Estate and the Bonding Company because our client was never included as a potential heir.  The Court required that the granddaughter be named as an equal heir with the other brothers and sisters, however, litigation was needed to have her included.  When there is no Will or even if there is a Will, potential heirs must be diligent and check with the Surrogate’s Office in the County where the decedent resided to make sure that they are not “left out” by the Administrator or Executor (if there is a Will).

Representation in New Jersey Estate and Probate Matters

Please contact Phil Ciprietti to discuss representation in an estate or probate matter in New Jersey. Please call 800.281.8695.