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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33397
Experience:  Estate Law Expert
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My mother lived in California. She died here. She had

Customer Question

My mother lived in California. She died here. She had checking account in NJ. Bank said I needed a surrogate certificate. She did have a will. I called probate in Ca., they said call bank back. They didn't know what I was talking abt. I called bank they refered me to surrogate court in Essex county. They can't do anything because she died in Ca. What's my next move
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

You are going to have to open a probate of some type to pass title to the property. In CA this is done through the probate court whereas in NJ it is done through the Surrogate's court. Different name but they do the same thing.

Usually one state will accept a certified copy of another state's orders under the "Full Faith and Credit" clause of the Constitution. However, if they don't then you could end up having to do the extra step of registering the CA order as a "foreign judgment" in NJ and "domesticating the judgment". That then makes it an order of a NJ court and the bank will have to follow the order.

There are a lot of different type of probate ranging from the very informal to a very formal probate including a jury trial. Very few cases require the jury trial and many can get by with an informal probate. However, you will have to visit with a local lawyer that does Probate law (you can find one at and have them do an in depth interview to see which kind will work best for your mother's estate.

If there is nothing more in the estate than the checking account and if it doesn't have much money in it then it is probably not going to be worth pursuing. However, if there is more property in the estate then a probate is the only way to pass title to that property.

Please ask any follow up questions in this thread.