County Surrogates Offices are working remotely, but some procedures are suspended

The Middlesex County NJ Assignment Judge has issued a Notice with details concerning procedures for filing and handling of cases in Middlesex County now that the courts are closed to in-person proceedings.  mcba_county_procedures_3-31-     Depending on the court, cases can be initiated electronically or by mail or drop off in an outside mailbox; mail is being held for 24 hours before processing so you need to give yourself extra time if a deadline is approaching.

Notably missing from the Assignment Judge’s Memo to the County Bar Association  is any explanation about the procedures in the Surrogate’s Office. We are working on finding out how things will be done that normally were handled at the Surrogate in person.The Surrogate accepts original Wills for probate when a person dies. The Surrogate issues the Letters of Guardianship after the Judge signs the Judgment in which a person is declared incapacitated and a Guardian of person and/or property is appointed. The Surrogate  takes applications for appointment of an Administrator of an “intestate estate,” which is an estate of a person who died without any written Will. The Surrogate holds and invests inherited funds belonging to minors, and takes requests by the parent or guardian of the minor for release of funds. Once  the minor turns 18, ordinarily he or she goes to the Surrogate to sign all the papers to request release of the funds.  These and more are procedures that have always been done “at the desk” of the person who works in the Surrogate’s office.

A quick review of other counties shows that although they have procedures for receipt of mail, processing of faxes, and taking telephone calls on a limited basis, even the Monmouth County Clerk’s Notices don’t specify what the Surrogate’s replacement procedures will be. The Morris County Surrogate has suspended in-person applications of all kinds until further notice, but no alternate procedure is identified for the types of proceedings mentioned above Union County has reduced hours, but all in person appearances are suspended. Same for Passaic County and others.

Attorneys at our Firm and elsewhere are working on ways to help clients fill out forms, get them signed and notarized, and submit them to necessary places. I certainly hope that our county Surrogates can devise alternative procedures that will enable them to issue the completion paperwork that’s needed to open an estate, appoint a guardian, and other crucial matters.

Call us for representation and advice about estate administration/probate, guardianship and other Surrogate Court matters … 732-382-6070

 

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