It is important to create a comprehensive estate plan, and there are certain measures that one can take to avoid probate if done correctly. Probate is the legal process whereby a last will and testament is determined to be valid and authentic by a court of law. Under New Jersey State Law, the will is admitted to probate when the executor files a “Petition for Probate” with the decedent’s will attached. Additionally, if the decedent died without a will, then an administrator would apply with the Surrogate. Probate proceedings take place in the county surrogate’s court where the decedent resided at the time of their death.
Over the last few years, both New Jersey and federal estate tax laws have changed. Currently, a decedent’s estate only needs to pay federal estate tax if the gross value of the estate exceeds $5,490,000. In New Jersey, estates with a value in excess of $2,000,000 have to pay the state’s estate tax. As of January 1, 2018, the New Jersey estate tax will no longer be in effect.