New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyers Assist Clients in Probating Wills
Guiding families in Red Bank through the probate process
Probate is the process of distributing the assets of an estate to the beneficiaries. The New Jersey Surrogate’s Court oversees the process for any property in probate and resolves probate disputes. Over more than four decades, Parsons & Nardelli has guided countless executors through the probate process. We also represent beneficiaries in recovering the inheritance the decedent wanted them to have. Our dedicated attorneys are discreet, respectful and professional while protecting your interests and rights.
Assisting executors with probate responsibilities
Executors have important responsibilities in settling estates, but they come at a time when most people named to serve in that capacity are grieving the loss of a loved one. The guidance of a skilled and compassionate legal professional can make fulfilling your responsibilities less difficult. An executor’s duties routinely include:
- Identifying and collecting assets
- Titling property in the name of the estate
- Maintaining the value of property until probate is complete
- Addressing claims and paying debts owed by the estate
- Distributing assets to heirs according to the provisions in the will
Most wills contain a clause that appoints an executor and an alternate executor in case the first cannot serve. The judge typically appoints the named executor if they meet the legal criteria and appoints a qualified person if one is not specified.
Often, the executor is a family member or close friend with little experience with wills, probate and other estate matters. If you were named as an executor, our firm can guide you through the process to make sure you understand your duties and carry them out as efficiently as possible.
Protecting beneficiaries during probate
Our firm also often represents beneficiaries of the estate. We protect the specific rights of named beneficiaries and those who otherwise have a valid claim. For example, our firm has helped spouses pursue their rights when the will contradicts New Jersey laws. We have also helped children of previous relationships assert their rights to a share of the estate. In addition, we have helped philanthropic organizations assert claims to gifts promised by the deceased.
Ensuring a will is valid
A will is a legal document that must be properly executed to be valid. The deceased must be of sound mind to execute the will, and the document must be signed by two witnesses. Problems often occur when a codicil, or amended document, replaces provisions of the original will or is suspected to exist. When modifying your last will and testament, our attorneys take care to ensure your intentions are fully understood and indisputable. If you believe you are an intended beneficiary of an estate, we review the will to determine whether you have a valid claim.
Assistance contesting a will
The surrogate court hears challenges to a will from beneficiaries and intended heirs with a valid claim. For example, adult children would have standing to contest disinheritance even though the deceased has the right to not leave anything to them. Possible grounds for a will contest include:
- Invalid execution — The will lacked an element or elements required for legal wills.
- Testamentary capacity — The deceased was not of sound mind when he or she signed the will, possibly because of mental or physical illness.
- Mistake — The deceased did not intend to disinherit the heir. For example, a testator left a home to his or her daughter, believing it would be of substantial value, but subsequently sold the property and failed to modify the will.
- Undue influence — A person of trust might have convinced the decedent to leave him or her a significant share of the inheritance by using such tactics as isolation, alienation, threats or trickery.
- Fraud — A forged document or a signature acquired through misrepresentation is invalid.
Our experienced lawyers are skilled at negotiating a resolution that protects your rights while preserving familial relationships. We are also your zealous advocates when probate litigation is in your best interests.
Contact our established NJ estate planning firm for assistance probating a will
Probating or contesting a will is often a complex task. When you need help with probate duties or legal counsel on contesting a will in Monmouth, Ocean, or Middlesex counties, call Parsons & Nardelli at 888.309.5589 or contact us online for a free consultation at our Red Bank office.