When campaigning for his position last year, Essex County Surrogate Judge Theodore N. Stephens II heard the same question over and over from residents, "What the heck is a surrogate?"
Stephens recounted this when he made a presentation about his responsibilities at the West Caldwell Council conference meeting last week.
The Surrogate Office, Stephens explained, administers in family law matters, specifically in the areas of wills, estates and trusts, as well as processes adoptions, assigns guardianships and manages a minor's intermingled trust fund.
While Stephens said some events before his court are happy occasions, such as adoptions, "People are always anxious of the court results."
To help alleviate some of the stress, Stephens said the staff is dedicated and committed.
"I am happy to be here," added Stephen, who is one year into his five-year term.
To accommodate residents' schedules, the Surrogate Office has extended hours on Wednesday evenings, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. All meetings are by appointment only.
The Surrogate Office is located at the Hall of Records, Room 206, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., in Newark.
A schedule of fees is available online.