Surrogate

Walk-in service available Monday-Friday, 8:30 to 3:30 p.m.

BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2024, PLEASE CALL 609-463-6666, Ext. 3209 TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT WITH ONE OF OUR STAFF MEMBERS.

Attention: Out of service elevator

The main elevator which provides access to the Surrogate's Office on the 3rd floor of the court building is out of order. At this time everyone has to take the stairs to the 3rd floor.  If this is not an option for you due to a disability, please see one of the Sheriff's Officers at the front desk. The officer will escort you to an alternate route to reach our office. 

Responsibilities

Each county has a Surrogate's Court and the Surrogate is the Judge of that court. The Surrogate is elected for a term of 5 years, pursuant to the Constitution of New Jersey, by the people of the county in which he or she has jurisdiction. Today, the County Surrogate is the Judge of the Surrogate’s Court which is almost certain to touch the lives of every person in the county at some time.

Surrogate Seal of the County of Cape May

Aside from the appointment of a guardian for a minor who comes into an estate, or the supervision of an adoption, or a sanity hearing, for example, it is increasingly common, after a death, to visit the Surrogate's Court for the appointment of someone to handle the estate of the deceased. In New Jersey, the person who passes on the validity of a will, gives the executor proof of authority to administer the estate and sees to it that the executor handles the estate properly, is called the Surrogate.

Root Meaning

The word "Surrogate" means "one who takes the place of another." The Surrogate in each county is actually taking the place of the governor, who in 1710 received from the Archbishop of London the authority as the Archbishop's "Ordinary" or Surrogate General to probate wills, issue marriage licenses and perform those functions which at that time were in the province of the Church.

That power, eventually distributed by the governor, then the governor of the Crown Colony of New Jersey, and subsequently the Governor of the State of New Jersey to his Surrogates, was recognized by subsequent New Jersey Legislatures in statutes which codified the powers and duties of the Surrogates, and by the Constitutions which fixed their terms.

To probate a Will and be named as Executor of an estate, please forward to us the original Will, an original Death Certificate and a completed information sheet. 

Cape May County Surrogate's Court Information Sheet

If the Decedent had no Will, family members or friends will be applying to become the Administrator of the estate.   We will need an original death certificate and a completed Information Sheet.  Please pay particular attention to the asset and liability section of the form and complete same to the best of your ability.  Administrations may also require that you obtain a Surety Bond in an amount to be determined by the Surrogate.  We will also need VIN numbers for all motor vehicles.

Documentation for Small Estates (defined as $50,000 for surviving spouses or $20,000 for next-of-kin) may also be obtained using the same procedure set forth above for Administrations.  We will need very specific information identifying each asset and the value of same.   Please note that if a Will exists, you cannot apply for a Small Estate Affidavit and the Will must be probated.

Most persons contacting this office are seeking Short Certificates to authorize them to conduct estate business, such as accessing funds in bank accounts or selling motor vehicles.  You will need one Short Certificate or Affidavit for each asset that exists in the Decedent’s individual name.  It will be helpful to advise how many Short Certificates you will need.  If you later determine you need additional Short Certificates, they can be easily obtained by contacting this office.

Please advise as to your preferred method of communication.  In many cases we will call or email you to get any additional information, then mail or email forms to you for execution and advise you of the required fee. After you return the forms to us with the necessary fee, we will mail you the original documents you will need to administer the estate or they can be picked up at the Sheriff’s Desk in the lobby. 

Please be advised that pursuant to state law, the Surrogate’s Office must retain the original Will and Death Certificate.  You will be provided with a certified true copy of the Will in the event that any institution requires same.