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Phone: 201-345-3018

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Settling a simple will

Not all wills are complicated and difficult to carry out. Many individuals find themselves in the situation where a parent dies, leaving a simple will with very few assets.

To take a simple example, a will left by a husband may leave the entire estate to the wife. Among the meager assets left by the husband is a car, which the wife wants to sell as she doesn't plan on driving it. In a case like this, what is the basic process one would go through before selling the vehicle?

Fortunately, New Jersey provides the option of going through a simple probate system, which is administered by a county "surrogates." One can probate a will through a surrogate court without the need for an attorney, though an attorney may be helpful in many situations. County surrogate fees typically are not that expensive, one county advising the executor to be prepared to pay up to $200.

To settle the will, the person named as the executor will need to have the will admitted to probate by the county surrogate in the county where the father lived. Specific details of the procedure can be found on the county surrogate's website, or by simply calling the surrogate's office.

To settle the will, the executor will usually need the original will, the original death certificate, personal information of the testator including home address and Social Security number, and a list of names and addresses of father's next of kin and beneficiaries named in the will.

The executor will need to set up an appointment with the surrogate's office to execute certain documents under oath. After requesting and paying for a surrogate's certificate demonstrating that the executor is qualified, the vehicle can then be transferred to the purchaser.

After that, the executor will need to transfer title to the wife by filing the old title and the surrogate's certificate with the Motor Vehicle Commission, along with title and registration fees. After title is transferred, the wife can then sell the car to a purchaser.

While this process is fairly simple to go through, it is important to do it carefully and correctly to avoid complications and difficulties later on.

Source: www.nj.com, "Will must be settled before car sale," Karin Price-Mueller, 14 Feb 2011.

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