Essex County Surrogate's Court will close at 3:00PM on Thursday, June 20, and remain closed on Friday, June 21, in observance of Juneteenth. We will resume regular operating hours on Monday, June 24.

The Surrogate’s Court
Our History

In New Jersey, the Surrogate is a Constitutional Officer and the Judge of the county's Surrogate's Court. Surrogates are elected by the voters of each county every 5 years. The Surrogate also serves as Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Probate Part.

The word Surrogate means "one who takes the place of another." The Surrogate in each county takes on the role of the Governor in probating Wills and issuing marriage licenses; a power originally given by the Archbishop of London in 1710. Before this point, these functions were in the province of the Church. The Surrogates were recognized as a separate office in the 1844 Constitution of New Jersey and allowed to run for election in each county to hold office for a 5 year term. Through subsequent statutes and modification, the powers and duties of County Surrogates have changed over time to meet present needs.

The responsibilities of the office include probating Wills, appointing administrators for those who die without Wills of estates, qualifying trustees, and qualifying guardians of incapacitated persons. The Surrogate's Court is also the custodian of minors’ funds until the minor turns 18 years of age, when they either receive the proceeds from a lawsuit or are named as a beneficiary of an insurance policy or in a Will.

As Deputy Clerk of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Probate Part, the Surrogate's Court reviews, files, and processes: adoptions; declaration of death actions; appointments of conservators; applications to have persons declared incapacitated and to have guardians appointed; estate related litigation pleadings; and actions to compel accountings in estate and guardianship matters.