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Settling One's Affairs

THE NEXT STEP . . .

 

A GUIDE TO SETTLING ONE’S PERSONAL AFFAIRS


 

Following the death of a loved one, a family may be in need of some general information on matters of importance that need to be addressed. Our Funeral Directors are here to help our families with information and guidance in these areas.  Please contact us 609-587-0170 for assistance with any of these explanations. 

 


 

SOCIAL SECURITY

  • The NEXT OF KIN MUST CONTACT Social Security as soon as possible to establish any eligibility for the death benefit and any possible benefit that may be due you and/or any dependent children.  Oftentimes there are no entitlements, but it is imperative to report the death in order to have the deceased’s Social Security number removed from the system to eliminate any fraudulent activity.  The most convenient way is to call their toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213.  Many times, they will ask to schedule a phone appointment, or you may choose to go to your local Social Security office if an appointment becomes necessary.

 

WILL

  • In many instances in the State of New Jersey, it is not necessary to probate a will, or to pursue an administration in the event there is not a will.  To ascertain the need to probate, please call the Surrogate’s Office in the county of residence of the deceased.  We have listed many of the local offices for your convenience below.

    Safe deposit boxes can be accessed prior to probate by the immediate next of kin, or the known Executor or Personal Representative, but only if the key is available.  This can be done in the presence of a bank officer and without the presence of a representative of the Inheritance Tax Bureau.  The officer will allow the removal of the original Will, the deed to the cemetery, military discharge papers (DD-214) and certain life insurance policies.

 

 STATE OF NEW JERSEY INHERITANCE TAX

  • In the event you must probate in the state, we recommend that you contact the Transfer Inheritance & Estate Tax Branch of the New Jersey Division of Taxation at 609-292-5033.  They will advise if you are required to fill out the necessary forms.

 

LIFE INSURANCE

  • Each personal life insurance company with whom the deceased was insured will require the original policy and/or a lost statement affidavit, a claim form and a certified death certificate.  Many families have requested we offer assistance in processing their insurance claims and we are pleased to continue to offer this service.  Reviewing beneficiary information on other policies is usually advisable at this time.

 

BANKING & FINANCIAL AFFAIRS

  • At the time of death, if bank accounts (savings, checking, holiday clubs, etc.) are in the deceased’s name only, then access to the funds are frozen until which time probate has taken place. In many cases, the funds are available because they are in a joint account with rights of survivorship depending upon relationships. All banks require a certified death certificate, and it would be advisable to deal directly with the bank regarding your personal situation.  As for stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit and investment accounts, a certified death certificate will also be needed.  The transferring agent or institution should be contacted since they have their own requirements for processing.

 

MOTOR VEHICLES

  • To transfer or sell a registered vehicle (car, trailer, motorcycle, boat, RV, etc.), you must go through the Motor Vehicle Commission.  You are required to present a certified death certificate and/or a short certificate (Letter of Testamentary) that you have received from the Surrogate’s office, depending upon individual affairs.

 

REAL ESTATE

  • A certified copy of the death certificate will be required in the event of the sale or transfer of ownership of property. It is not always necessary to delete the name of the deceased from the deed, e.g. real estate owned jointly by husband and wife in the form of ownership legally known as “Tenancy by the Entirety” is not controlled by the will of the spouse who dies first.  Absolute ownership of the property will pass to the surviving spouse who has the rights of survivorship regardless of what the will may provide.  It would be advisable to attach a certified death certificate to the actual deed in the event the property is ever sold.  In some cases, legal advice may be necessary.

 

INCOME TAXES – FEDERAL AND STATE

  • A certified death certificate should be attached to federal and state returns.  These copies may serve in lieu of the signature for the decedent.  In the event the estate was probated, and returns are necessary, the Executor will sign and send a copy of the short certificate. 

 

PERSONAL DEBT

  • This area will be handled by the surviving spouse and/or Executor.  Numerous certified death certificates are needed if there are outstanding debts (personal and car loans, leases, mortgages, charge accounts, etc.).

 

DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS & SOCIAL MEDIA

  • Most digital subscriptions can be cancelled simply by calling the issuing company’s customer service department.  Some may ask for a certified copy of the death certificate or letter of cancellation.  If you do not have a list of the digital subscriptions, a scan of all credit card bills from the past year should identify charges for these accounts.  Social media account companies should also be notified.  Most require a certified death certificate, proof of relationship to the deceased, and a copy of your identification in order to cancel the account.  As an alternative to cancelling a social media account, some platforms allow you to memorialize the account to keep it open in a limited fashion.  When contacting Facebook, check to see if you have been named a legacy contact prior to the deceased’s death, as this will allow you access to certain features of the deceased’s account.  

 


 

SURROGATE'S OFFICES AND LINKS

 

Mercer County Surrogate’s Office

Mercer County Civil Courthouse

175 South Broad Street

4th Floor; Room 420

Trenton, NJ 08560

609-989-6331

Burlington County Surrogate’s Office

49 Rancocas Road, 1st Floor; Room 102

Mt. Holly, NJ 08060

609-265-5005

Middlesex County Surrogate’s Office

Administration Building

75 Bayard Street, 1st Floor

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

732-745-3055

Monmouth County Surrogate’s Office

Hall of Records

1 East Main Street

Freehold, NJ 07728

732-431-7330

Ocean County Surrogate’s Office

Courthouse

118 Washington Street

Toms River, NJ 08753

732-929-2011

 


 

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

 

  • ADMINISTRATOR/ADMINISTRATRIX:

    A person appointed by the courts to manage and distribute the estate of a person who dies without a Will

 

  • BENEFICIARY:

    A person designated to receive life insurance named on any financial documents

 

  • CODICIL: 

    An addition or supplement to an original Will made to delete or add to provisions of a Will

 

  • DEATH CERTIFICATE:

    A certified copy of the original with a raised seal

 

  • ESTATE:

    Everything a person owns; property and possessions

 

  • EXECUTOR/EXECUTRIX:

    A person named in a Will to carry out the wishes and intentions of the Will; also known as a personal representative

 

  • HEIR/BENEFICIARY:

    A person designated to receive money and/or property through a Will

 

  • INTESTATE:

    When a person dies without a Will or a valid Will

 

  • PROBATE:

    Judicial determination as to the validity of a Will

 

  • SHORT CERTIFICATE:

    A legal document from the Surrogate’s Office that the Administrator/Executor uses as proof of his/her authority to transfer or sell assets of the deceased

 

  • SURROGATE:

    In New Jersey, the person who passes on the validity of a Will, gives the Executor proof of his/her authority to administer the Estate, and sees to it the Executor/Executrix handles the estate properly

 

  • WILL:

    A legal declaration of the manner in which a person wishes his/her estate to be

 

 

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A.S. Cole Son & Co.
22 North Main Street
Cranbury, NJ 08512
(609) 395-0770

Saul Colonial Home
3795 Nottingham Way
Hamilton Square, NJ 08690
(609) 587-0170

Kimberly M. Saul-Bowne, CFSP, Manager
N.J. Lic. No. 4110


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