Memorial Day

Essex County Surrogate's Court will close at 1:00PM on Friday, May 26, in observance of Memorial Day and resume regular operating hours on Tuesday, May 30.

Surrogate's Corner

A Message from the Surrogate

The goal of the Surrogate’s Corner is to educate the public on the services and support the Essex County Surrogate’s Court can offer. From the generational wealth that can accumulate from proper preparation of Wills, to adoption and guardianship support, we are here to help you when life changes occur. On this page, you’ll find important updates on our events and initiatives, messages and announcements from the Surrogate, as well as past webinars!

“The Essex County Surrogate’s Court helped us navigate through all of the very tricky laws in order for my brother’s wishes to be fulfilled.”
- Harold Perrineau, award-winning actor and producer

Life changes… Don’t get caught off guard

Announcements & Updates

March 1, 2023

Don’t Leave Anything to Chance. Prioritize Making a Will.

Prince, Aretha Franklin, Chadwick Boseman, and Stephen “tWitch” Boss are just some of the Black celebrities who recently passed away with questionable Wills or no Wills at all. As their families learned, the lack of a Will coupled with an untimely death can have negative impacts on anybody with specific wishes for their assets or anybody working to build wealth for their family. That’s why it’s never too early to create a Will. Read more on the topic in my recent op-ed for

January 16, 2023

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As we begin the new year 2023, we want to take a moment and reflect on how much of an honor it is to serve the community from our new office located in the Martin Luther King Jr. Justice Building. For those who haven't been, here's a quick look at the memorial located in and around our building at 495 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Newark.

November 1, 2022

National Estate Planning Awareness Week

October 17-23 was National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Many Essex County residents believe you need to be wealthy or elderly to have an estate plan, which is simply not true. Without an estate plan or Will, families are exposed to costly drawn-out legal battles leading to emotional trauma and crippling financial burdens. That’s why in honor of the week, the Essex County Surrogate’s Court encouraged our community to make estate planning a priority.

Learn more about how estate planning can help your family keep more wealth by reading my op-ed for TheGrio.

Watch our video featured by The Newark Times to hear 5 simple tips to start your estate plan.

October 10, 2022

Essex County Senior Wellness Day

Join us on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at the Essex County Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange, NJ, for the Annual Essex County Senior Wellness Day. This free event will offer health screenings, exercise demonstrations, and other valuable information for Essex County seniors.

ECSC Senior Wellness Day Flyer
March 25, 2022

Looking to Their Future: A Developmental Disability Awareness Month Webinar

On March 24, 2022 we hosted a webinar to discuss adult guardianship and options available for children with developmental disabilities aging into adulthood. We were joined by April Fronduto-Slavin, Esq., Special Deputy Surrogate in the Bergen County Surrogate’s Court; and Thomasina R. Thornton, Esq., sole practitioner with primary concentrations in the areas of trust and estate planning, wealth transfers, asset protection, estate tax planning, Estate Administration (Probate), and Guardianships.

Watch this webinar for more information on the process and procedures surrounding adult guardianship.

December 7, 2021

The Nuts and Bolts of Adoption: How to Avoid Pitfalls

On December 7, 2021 we partnered with the Rutgers Institute for Professional Education to co-sponsor an informative and impactful CLE webinar about the fundamentals of adoption law and the unique perspective of the attorneys, the Surrogate’s Court, and the judge. Our Deputy Surrogate Devero McDougal, Esq. and Bilingual Clerk-Adoptions Sara Montiel were joined by Hon. Wayne J. Forrest, Judge for the Essex County Superior Court (Vicinage 5); Lauri R. Steinberg, Esq., Attorney at Pine & Steinberg, LLC; and Deb Guston, Esq., Attorney at Guston & Guston, LLP, for the program.

Nuts and Bolts of Adoption Flyer
Novemeber 30, 2021

Foster To Adopt: How You Can Help Neglected Children Have The Bright Future They Deserve

Black and Brown children who are in foster care are often last if ever, to be adopted. While going through the child welfare system, they must have the support of people who can relate to them. That’s why more people of color need to be involved in every stage of the adoption process. Read more on the topic in my recent op-ed for Blavity.

August 9,2021

National Make-A-Will Month Webinar

On August 8, 2021, we were joined by Harold Perrineau, award-winning actor and star of the Matrix franchise and ABC’s hit show Lost for an informative and impactful National Make-A-Will Month webinar, which discussed the importance of having a will. We were also joined by Judge Bernice Toledo, Passaic County Surrogate, and Crystal W. Edwards Esq., Principal of Porzio Bromberg & Newman P.C.

Watch this webinar to learn about the benefits of proactive will and estate planning.