MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The Morris County Surrogate’s Office announced that it is moving forward with a plan to implement fully remote operations by the fall of this year.
Residents seeking probate services in the Surrogate’s Court will be able to complete the probate process from the comfort of their own homes or offices – a valuable tool in this era of COVID-19.
Starting in November, the public will have the option to complete an entire probate online without visiting the county government and court complex in Morristown. Historically, the probate process usually has involved making an appointment and traveling to Morristown to complete the probate forms in the Surrogate’s office with the help of a probate clerk.
To improve that process, Morris County Surrogate Heather Darling has directed an IT vendor to move ahead with a software modification to allow for remote probate services.
“As an attorney practicing in the Surrogate’s Court, it was apparent to me that a significant segment of the clients this office serves is subject to mobility issues of varying degrees,” Darling said. “It has been my plan since the day I was elected last year to implement this significant convenience for the residents of Morris County, and now we have found a way to bring it to fruition without any additional expense’’ she added.
Residents always have the right to come to Probate Court. However, this option will create efficiencies that previously did not exist.
Starting in the fall, clients and/or their attorneys will be able to fill in the necessary information online and submit it digitally to the County Surrogate’s Office for a quick review.
If there are issues with form selection or other matters, probate clerks will be available by phone to quickly make modifications. Final documents can immediately be executed at home and returned via regular mail or through an attorney or courier. Once the documents, including the original Will and Certified Death Certificate are received with payment, appropriate certificates will be issued from the Surrogate’s Court completing the process.
“This will provide a tremendous benefit to those using our office – a service that is rapidly being created out of necessity caused by Covid-19,” Deputy Surrogate Christopher Luongo said.
Since Covid-19 related building closures, the Surrogate’s Office has been operating by phone and email. In the event of a fall resurgence of the virus, this new online service will enable the Surrogate’s Office to provide full, efficient, and uninterrupted service to Morris County residents.
Surrogates in other counties have expressed an interest in the system being designed in Morris County and may follow the lead by purchasing the program being designed to Darling’s specifications.