October 9, 2013 at 6:55 AM
LIVINGSTON, NJ – Essex County Surrogate Ted Stephens visited the Livingston Township Council meeting on the evening of Oct. 7.
Since Stephens took office as surrogate judge in January 2012, he has been working to visit all municipalities in Essex County to educate them on what the Surrogate Court does so that residents can more fully understand the services available to them.
Stephens explained that the Surrogate Court primarily handles probate of will estates and the administration of non-will estates. He also emphasized the growing important function of guardianship, especially with the baby boomers getting older, and the recent attention Chief Justice Stuart Rabner has put on guardianship monitoring.
The court also handles adoptions. “A lot of people don’t know,” Stephens joked, “adoption, I dare say… is probably the only time when you go into the court room and everybody in the court room is happy, including the judge. It’s a rare occasion – but even getting over that last hurdle – there’s an anxious moment to make sure that the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted.”
Stephens spoke to the council and audience about his staff as well. “Everyone who comes into the Surrogate Courts is in need of a little tender love and care and I’m happy to report that the Surrogate staff is extremely good and extremely competent.”
Last year, Stephens and his staff decided to extend hours of the court on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, allowing for individuals who have a hard time taking off of work to be accommodated. Individuals are also assured to be seen with an appointment and will have free parking available to them in the employee parking lot.
This year, Stephens’ team is following up his ‘municipality visit campaign’ with the launch of a new website featuring new resources and tools.
Mayor Rudy Fernandez thanked Stephens for his visit complimented the court’s efforts and services. “Your staff is terrific. I’ve always had very good experiences with everyone down there. They are professional and accommodating.”
For more information, or to contact the Essex County Surrogate visit: www.essexsurrogate.com.