Mary Ann Pidgeon will assist families who have lost a loved one. This is a very sensitive time for the survivors and our firm will assist in the administration of the estate. Personal and attentive service will help the Executor address all the tasks necessary to complete the probate process.

First, our firm assists with the probate of the Will by sending the county information form to the Surrogate of the county in which the deceased resided at the time of death. We will help the Executor assemble the information needed for the Surrogate’s form. When the Executor meets with the Surrogate, all the necessary forms are complete so the meeting will be much shorter and there should be no problems or delays.

In the event the deceased did not have a Last Will and Testament, it is even more important to have an experienced attorney help the survivors navigate the legal requirements to probate an estate. In that case a bond must be posted to ensure that the Administrator of the estate performs the role in the proper fiduciary capacity.

Second, the debts and assets of the deceased have to be assembled. This can be difficult if the deceased does not leave an organized list of the assets and the name of a contact person to discuss transferring the assets to the beneficiaries. Another problem can occur when the assets and information are on-line and the deceased does not provide the passwords for the computer and the accounts. Our firm will help locate all the assets and facilitate the transfer. Non-probate assets such as life insurance, IRA’s and 401(k)’s must also be transferred. All the debts of the deceased must also be paid out of the assets of the deceased. We will assist in tracking down the debts and making sure they are paid.

In the event that there are more debts than assets, our firm may assist in filing a motion to allow for the sale of real estate if any. The court may order the debtors to reduce the amount of their claims so the property may be sold and as many debts paid as possible. If a New Jersey Inheritance Tax needs to be paid, we will prepare the tax returns and file them with the Division of Taxation. If the deceased owned real property at the time of death, we will make certain that an L-9 form is received from the Division of Taxation and recorded in the county in which the deceased resided so that the property may be sold and the inchoate lien for the estate taxes is removed. We will assist with the L-8 form required by the State of New Jersey so that bank and investment accounts may be transferred.

Third, the law requires that an accounting be prepared showing all the assets, debts and the amount left to the beneficiaries. Pidgeon & Pidgeon will assemble all the numbers and provide a detailed list of all the assets, debts and expenses of the estate administration. The accounting shows the amount left to the beneficiaries. When this amount is agreed to, we prepare Release and Refunding Bonds for the signatures of the beneficiaries. This document states that the beneficiary agrees with the accounting and agrees to refund any part of the bequest necessary. The Bond will be recorded in the Surrogate’s Office and the file is then closed and complete.

Fourth, one debt may be New Jersey taxes. There is no New Jersey Estate tax as long as the decedent gives his or her property to Class A beneficiaries, that is spouse, children and grandchildren. If you leave your assets to anyone other than a child, spouse or charity, an Inheritance Tax will be assessed. We will prepare the Inheritance Tax Return so this debt will be satisfied.

Mary Kiernan Lee assists Mrs. Pidgeon in the Estate Administration. Mary has been working in this field for ten years. Mary also has experience with banking and accounting which is most helpful to our clients.