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Frequently Asked Questions


1) How do I begin the probate procedure?
The person that wishes to be appointed to represent the Estate will bring a certified copy of the death certificate and the original Will. While the Middlesex County Surrogate can begin the paperwork anytime after death, probate cannot be completed until the day following the tenth day after death. No appointment is necessary for our New Brunswick office. You can make an appointment at one of our nine satellite offices by calling (732) 745-3055.

2) Is the probate process expensive?
No. Most probates cost less than $200.00.

3) Who has the right to be appointed when an individual dies without a Will?
The next of kin of the decedent have the right to be appointed.  This is determined by statute. The surviving spouse or domestic partner has the first right. Children of the decedent are next. However, any heir may be appointed assuming they obtain the appropriate renunciations from any other heir who has an equal or prior right to be appointed.

4) What do I bring to Middlesex County Surrogate Court?
If you are probating a will, you have to bring:

  • A certified copy of a death certificate;
  • An original will. If an original will cannot be located, the will, to be admitted to probate, must be formally admitted through proceedings in Middlesex County Superior Court.

5) 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:

  • A certified death certificate;
  • Renunciations, if applicable, from parties not willing to serve as administrator. Please see our Forms Section for blank Renunciations.
  • A list of the decedent’s assets and an approximate value of each.
    • You must provide the Make, Model and Vin number for any car in the decedent’s name alone
    • You must provide Bank Account information i.e. Bank name, Account number and most recent statement.

6) What forms of payment does the Middlesex County Surrogate Court accept?
We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Checks and Money Orders. We DO NOT accept cash or Power of Attorney checks from the deceased.


7) What does "Probate" mean?
“Probate” refers to the act of presenting a will to the Surrogate Court for filing.  In a more general sense, probate refers to the method by which your estate is administered and processed through the legal system after you die.

8) What time are you at the satellite office?
Please refer to the Satellite Office Section.

9) How long will this take?
It generally takes between fifteen and thirty minutes to complete the probate process.

10) What happens if I can’t find the Original Will?
If the original will cannot be found, the next of kin to the deceased would come to the Surrogate Court to make application for Administration.

11) How do I get a Tax ID number?
http://www.irs.gov; 800-829-1040. Form SS-4 - Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN)

12) Why does the Surrogate Court keep the original Will and what happens if I need it again?
New Jersey law requires that the original will be filed with the Surrogate Court in the county the decedent resided in at the time of his/her death. A copy of the will is provided to the executor at the time of probate.

13) What kind of ID do I need?
No ID is required.

14) 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. Administrators are required by law to obtain a surety bond in order to be appointed. Executors may not be required to obtain a surety bond if the will waives that requirement.

15) When does the reading of the Will take place?
In New Jersey the will is not read aloud in a formal manner. It is examined by the Surrogate Court when presented by the executor.

16) Do I need an attorney?
An attorney is not required to appear in the Surrogate Court with the applicant.

17) Can you recommend an attorney?
Middlesex County Bar Association http://www.mcbalaw.com/; (732) 828-3433

18) I already paid my attorney; why do I have to pay you too?
Attorney fees are separate from Surrogate fees.

19) Why do I have to probate the Will just for a car?
The Motor Vehicle Commission requires a Surrogate certificate to transfer a car out of the decedent's name.

20) Do I have to transfer the car into my name before I can sell it?
No.

21) The Executor/Administrator of the Estate is taking too long to distribute my money; how do I get them to pay me my share?
A legatee/beneficiary of an estate has the right to petition the Superior Court to compel the Executor/Administrator to make distribution. However, the Executor/Administrator should be allowed a reasonable time to settle the estate. This would include the payment of taxes, debts, etc.

22) How can I get a copy of a Will?
A copy of a probated will can be obtained in person, through the mail or ordered over the phone. The fee for a copy is $3.00/page.

23) How do I get Guardianship of a Minor?
A person would apply in the Surrogate Court for the Guardianship of a Minor.

24) How do I reverse the Guardianship of a Minor?
By Superior Court Order.

25) How do I get a Bond released?
The administrator can be released from the surety bond in two ways:

      • Filing the original refunding bond and release forms from all beneficiaries with the Surrogate Court and stamped copies with the Insurance Company
      • With the approval of the Superior Court of a formal accounting of the estate

26) What is the fee for filing a Refunding Bond and Release?
Please refer to the Fee Schedule

27) What is the fee for filing an Order to Show Cause and Verified Complaint?
Please refer to the Fee Schedule

28) Do I have to locate the witnesses to the will?
If the will is “self-proved” – i.e., if it was witnessed by two individuals and notarize by a third individual – the witnesses do not have to appear to attest to their signatures.  If the will is not “self-proved” then one of the witnesses will have to attest to his/her signature.

29) Is the executor or administrator entitled to a fee?
Yes.  The fee is a percentage of the probate estate and is established by statute.

30) How do I contest a will?
File a complaint with the Superior Court through the Middlesex County Surrogate's Court.

31) If a will contains any charitable bequests, how does the executor notify the Attorney General of NJ?
The executor must file an affidavit with the Attorney General that a Notice of Probate was served to all interested parties by personal service, or regular and certified mail. The affidavit should be sent to: Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, Division of Law, P.O. Box 112, Trenton, NJ 08625.

Useful Telephone Numbers:

  • NJ Inheritance Tax Office: 609-292-5033
  • NJ Motor Vehicle Information: 609-292-6500
  • Social Security Administration: 800-772-1213
  • US Tax Information: 800-829-1040
  • Department of Veterans Affairs: 800-827-1000