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probateProbate is simply the process of proving a will’s validity and authenticity after the decedent’s death and thereafter transferring the decedent’s property to the intended beneficiaries.  Probate is a court-supervised process, handled by the Surrogate’s Court in the county in which the decedent lived.

How the Probate Process Works

The probate process starts with the probate court validating the will and naming a personal representative. The personal representative is in charge of the decedent’s estate.

There are a few types of personal representatives, such as executors and administrators. When the decedent left a will, the executor is the individual specifically appointed by the decedent in his or her will. On the other hand, when a decedent does not draft a will, the decedent is said to have died intestate. When a decedent dies intestate, the administrator is typically nominated by the decedent’s family.

Responsibilities of a Personal Representative

The responsibilities of a personal representative are governed by the New Jersey Probate Act and the Internal Revenue Code, and include the following:

  • Collect and inventory all of decedent’s assets
  • File income tax returns
  • File federal and state tax returns where applicable
  • Preserve and manage assets during administration
  • Sell property to meet the objectives of the estate
  • Review any life insurance policies
  • Aid beneficiaries in collecting life insurance policies
  • Consider all claims against the estate
  • Arrange for the transfer of all assets such as bank accounts, investment accounts, and the like
  • Distribute the estate in accordance with the decedent’s will.

A common misconception is that the probate process is time consuming and expensive. In reality, however, the probate process in New Jersey is a simple, quick, and inexpensive process.

To schedule a consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys, please call our office (856) 845 – 0011 or email us at

Message to Our Clients Amid Coronavirus OutbreakWe are open for business

Given the current circumstances associated with the coronavirus outbreak, we are providing an update of our operations. We are open for business.  To ensure the safety of our employees and clients, we have a skeleton crew of essential staff at our Woodbury Office, with the remaining attorneys and staff available for remote operations.

We remain available by phone and email as normal.  Our attorneys and staff working remotely have full access to our computer systems.  While we cannot, at this time, field personal meetings, we are available to discuss by phone and email.  Fortunately, Puff & Cockerill has a full access system to allow our attorneys and staff to work remotely to continue to assist our clients.

We stand ready to assist all of our clients and welcome any new clients to contact our office at 856-845-0011 or at  Our staff will field your call and direct you accordingly.

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