When Probating a Will Containing a Trust Must the Trustee Be Approved By the Surrogate?

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Probate & Estate Attorney

Recently, I had some clients come in seeking to probate an estate that involved a revocable trust.  The trust was created before the will was written, and property was transferred to the trust throughout the lifetime of the decedent.  In this case, the executors of the estate, wanted to know from me if the current trustees of the trust needed to appear before the County Surrogate to be formally appointed trustee(s) of the trusts.

Not surprisingly, the Surrogate’s office confirmed to me what I had advised the clients, namely that the trustees of the trusts could stay home.  They don’t need to be appointed. The Surrogate only requires trustees of trusts who are named inside a last will to come into their office so the Surrogate can qualify them to be lawful trustee(s) of the trust.  Trusts created outside of a last will do not need the Surrogate’s approval to have the trustees who are currently managing the trusts to be re-appointed because they are not a part of the probate process.

To discuss your NJ Estate & Probate matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.