How do I get a copy of a will?

Question: How do I get a copy of a will from a person who died in 2004?

In New Jersey the Surrogate’s office in each county handles probate issues. When a person dies a representative known as the executor (male) or executrix (female) brings the death certificate and the will to the Surrogate’s office.

If the will complies with the requirements set forth by the courts it is admitted to probate. The will and other important documents are kept by the Surrogate in their files.

To get a copy of a will that has been probated you can go to the county surrogate’s office and request a copy. Usually the fee is between $10-$30 based on the fee structure set by the county and the number of pages of the will.

Note that if there were no assets in the estate there may be no will probated. A will where there are no assets may be filed with the surrogate’s office but will not get a docket number and will not be public record.

Some counties make their surrogate’s records available online. My favorite county surrogate’s website is Camden – you can search for the availability of documents online. See the site HERE

Generally a beneficiary of an estate will have been notified at the time of probate but sometimes this step is missed or neglected. If you have any questions about what the Will of a loved one it may be worth the effort and expense to have peace of mind.

For a link to the contact information of each of the 21 county surrogate’s offices – CLICK HERE

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