Frequently Asked Questions

How to obtain a certified copy of a death certificate?

Certified copies of death certificates are available from Local Registrars for the municipality where the death occurred. List of Union County Registrars.

What do I bring to the Surrogate’s Court to Probate a Will?

Please Note: Probate cannot be completed until the day following the tenth day after death. You can apply earlier, however, the judgment just will not be signed.

The named executor must bring the following to the Surrogate’s Court:

  • The Original Will
  • Original Death Certificate with Raised Seal
  • Names and Address of Next of Kin. This includes the names and addresses of closest next of kin, including any of the children of the decedent’s alive or deceased, children of the decedent’s deceased sibling, if the decedent had no surviving spouse or children.
  • Personal Check, Visa or Mastercard, or Cash for filing fees and costs: Generally, filing fees and costs are approximately $150-$200.
    • This varies based on the length of the Will and the complexities of the estate.
    • The filing fee for the Will is $100.00 for the first two pages and $5.00 for each additional page.
    • The cost of Surrogate’s Certificates is $5.00 per certificate.

Who can be appointed when an individual dies without a Will?

The next of kin of the decedent has the right to be appointed. This is determined by statute. The surviving spouse or domestic partner has the first right, and the decedent’s children are next in line.

However, any heir may be appointed assuming they obtain the appropriate renunciations from any other heir with an equal or prior right to be appointed.

What do I bring if the decedent dies without a will?

You must still go through the probate process. You will be required to bring:

  • The Original Death Certificate with Raised Seal.
  • Renunciations, if applicable, from parties not willing to serve as administrator. Please call 908-527-4280 for more information.
  • A list of the decedent’s assets and an approximate value of each
    • Examples – make, model, and VIN for any car in the decedent’s name alone, bank account information such as bank name, account number, and most recent statement.

How long will this take?

It generally takes between 30 to 45 minutes to complete the probate process.

What happens if I can’t find the Original Will?

If the original Will cannot be found, the next of kin to the deceased will apply for an administration of the estate. You may also retain an attorney to have a copy of a Will admitted to probate in Superior Court.

Why does the Surrogate Court keep the original Will, and what happens if I need it again?

The Original Will remains on file in our office and is a public record which can be accessed accordingly.

A copy of the Will is provided to the executor during the probate process.

What is a Surety Bond, and why do I need to get one?

A surety bond is an insurance policy that protects the beneficiaries and creditors of the estate.

In some cases, Administrators are required by law to obtain a surety bond based on the amount to be inherited in order to be appointed. Executors may not be required to obtain a surety bond if the Will waives that requirement.

The costs of the bond are reimbursable by the estate, and any other expenses associated with the probate process.

Do I need an attorney?

No, an attorney is not required to appear in the Surrogate Court with the applicant.

When is an estate considered closed?

An estate is never considered closed in New Jersey. The appointed next-of-kin may need to file the following in the Surrogate’s Court:

  1. Accounting (where formal court proceedings require filing an accounting)
  2. Refunding Bond and Release forms from each beneficiary

Where Can I Get the “Annual Report of Guardian” Form?

The Annual Report of Guardian should be filed yearly on the anniversary date of a guardian’s appointment unless the judge specified otherwise on the date of appointment. File the original with the Surrogate.

Guardianship reporting forms and instructions are provided on our site. Visit the Superior Court forms section for the most current forms and instructions.

How can I obtain copies of documents probated? 

A copy of probated documents can be obtained in person or by mail. Please see the fees page for more information on the cost.