May 15, 2022 marks the one year anniversary of the amendments to R. 4:86 requiring background screening for certain proposed guardians. Since the inception of the background screening requirement, Bergen County has filed in excess of 275 adult guardianship applications, with almost 50% requiring background screening for at least one proposed guardian.

The Bergen County Superior Court and the Bergen County Surrogate’s Court are experiencing difficulty with fingerprinting various proposed guardians, wherein the proposed guardian(s) fail to contact the Sheriff’s Department to schedule fingerprinting and/or fail to appear for their fingerprinting appointment(s) which were scheduled by the proposed guardian. This results in multiple adjournments to the detriment of the alleged incapacitated individual.

Follow up telephone calls or emails from the Court to proposed guardians with regard to same are met with a plethora of reasons as to why fingerprinting has not occurred. By way of example, and by no means an exhaustive list:

  • Proposed guardian was previously fingerprinted for another reason (ie. employment) and should not need to be fingerprinted
  • Proposed guardian works full time and cannot appear for fingerprinting during business hours
  • Proposed guardian is out of the country on business for several months
  • Proposed guardian refuses to provide Social Security Number required for background screening
  • Counsel failed to notify proposed guardian of requirement to be fingerprinted

At present, the Bergen Vicinage and the Bergen County Surrogate are both operating with a reduced staff and the continuous and repeated attempts to follow up with proposed guardians has been challenging, particularly when they are represented by counsel and should have been thoroughly advised as to the Court’s background screening policy.

We urge counsel to explain to proposed guardians that the requirement for background screening is mandated by the Administrative Office of the Courts, and failure to comply with the requirement in a timely manner will result in automatic disqualification of the proposed guardian.

Applications for adult guardianship that are not accompanied by Name/Address/Phone Number/Social Security Number/Date of Birth/and Email Address of proposed guardians will not be docketed until this information is provided.

Further, proposed guardians will be afforded sixty (60) days from the date of filing to complete background screening. Failure to do so will result in automatic disqualification of the proposed guardian(s) absent exigent circumstances. Notices will be sent to counsel and pro se litigants with signed Orders Fixing Hearing Date.

We ask that you recognize the seriousness of timely compliance in protecting the rights of Bergen County’s most vulnerable citizens and thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.

/s/ Bonnie J. Mizdol, A.J.S.C. and Surrogate Michael R. Dressler Bergen County

May 5, 2022

As of August 2, 2021, the Bergen County Surrogate’s Court will reopen to the public. Appointments for probating and other court work as well as record researching are mandatory. Individuals without appointments will be required to leave the premises.

In order to arrange an appointment, please call 201-336-6700 and ask for an employee in the appropriate division. Read More

In an effort to expedite matters before the court during this public health emergency, we have decided to provide an alternative track for attorneys seeking to probate here in Bergen County. Attorneys may either pursue the established protocol of notarization via Webex or they may contact our office to have the requisite documents sent to their attention via e-mail so they may then take signatures from clients if they have the ability to proceed in that manner. This alternative track should work to our mutual advantage in mitigating turnaround time for everyone who is currently awaiting service.

BCSC-AlternativeTrackAttorneys.pdf

NOTICE TO THE BAR 

During these unprecedented times, we recognize the difficulty that practitioners face addressing client’s needs. In an effort to alleviate some of those difficulties for attorneys as well as pro se individuals, please be advised the Bergen County Surrogate Court’s website has been updated to include the forms for the Will Fact Sheet and Administration Fact Sheet. The produce for probate/administration, along with the newly uploaded forms, can be found at https://www.bergencountysurrogate.com . In the event you should have any questions, you are welcome contact our office for guidance.

We appreciate your patience as we work tirelessly to assist the public probate the estates of their loved ones.

Be well,

/s/ Michael R. Dressler,  Surrogate

Deputy Clerk, Superior Court

Chancery Division, Probate Part

Update from the Bergen County Surrogate’s Court.pdf

NOTICE TO THE BAR

May 13, 2020

The Bergen County Surrogate’s Court has extended electronic services to complete applications for appointment as Guardian of Minor’s Property resulting from a Friendly Hearing held in Superior Court. Electronic Services to complete the appointment shall take place on a limited basis on the first and third Friday afternoons of the month from 1:00 – 3:00pm.

To make application for appointment as guradian of a minor’s property, the guardians must provide a copy of the child’s birht certificate and social security card, both parents’ photo identification, name and address of any siblings, a valid email address and telephone number, proff of residence, a copy of any consents (if applicable), a copy of the court order entered at the time of the friendly hearing, and the processing fee. Upon receipt of same, an appointment will be made to take electronic signatures via Webex.

Be well,

/s/Michael R. Dressler, Surrogate

Deputy Clerk, Superior Court

Chancery Division, Probate Part

5/13/2020 Notice to the Bar.pdf

Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the Office of the Bergen County Clerk will continue to remain closed to the public. However, we have been able to “keep the wheels turning” and carry out many of our functions due to the efforts, innovation and adaptability of my diligent staff.

Here is a current update concerning what the office has been able to accomplish under these challenging conditions:

  • REGISTRY DIVISION: The office continues to receive land record transactions by mail or electronically (E-Recording). Working with the Office of the County Executive, we have been able to distribute laptops to employees so that they can carry out these functions from home. Eleven employees are working to verify these processed documents in order to make them available to the public.
  • LAND RECORDS MANAGEMENT DIVISION: This division has continued to remain functional and open to title searchers on a very limited, rotational and secure basis. Following the approval of our request by the County Administrator on March 18, 2020, we initially permitted title searchers access from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. To further diminish any potential exposure, we are now strictly limiting the title searchers to alternating every other day during the same hours. Everyone is required to wear a face covering or mask. The searching area has been completely disinfected and title searchers’ stations are more than 10 feet apart.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

John Hogan (Bergen County Clerk) 201-336-7006, jhogan@bergen.nj.us

Steve Shong (Deputy Clerk) 201-336-7030, schong@co.bergen.nj.us

Carlos Soto (Supervisor of Land Records Management) csoto@co.bergen.nj.us

Kathy Ciolko (Supervisor of E-Recording) kciolko@co.bergen.nj.us

Antoinette Kqira (Supervisor of Paper Processing) akqira@co.bergen.nj.us 

CLERK’S OFFICE NOTIFICATION.pdf

Follow the link below and read the updated policy from the Supreme Court of New Jersey in regards to the required usage of facemasks when inside courthouses and court facilities. This notice effectively supersedes memos and supplements established on April 3rd and April 17th.

Memo – COVID-19 – Revised Policy on Masks and Face Coverings – As Signed – 05-08-20.pdf