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Posted Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

From Surrogate Heather J. Darling

I am finishing up the first quarter of my first year as Morris County Surrogate.  When I ran for this office, I had goals and ideas for myself and the office but I never knew the extent those goals would be impacted by an external source, Covid-19.

Morris County Surrogate Heather Darling

Morris County Surrogate Heather Darling

Nonetheless, in my first three months, we still accomplished several important goals.

First, we edited, updated and added to the Morris Count Surrogate’s Manual, which had been discontinued in 2018.  Now, for the first time, the book is available online, as it arrived from the printer just as our office closed to the public due to the virus.

Second, in conjunction with the Morris County Bar Association, we have implemented a low cost attorney program. This provides low-cost attorney services to the Morris County Probate Court.

Third, I will be upgrading our website with more access to information and important services.

As far as Covid-19, our office has always dealt with the public face-to face, until the week of March 16.  We have had to move forward in a manner that is safe yet effective. Fortunately, our simple online forms, email, scanners, facsimile, mail and couriers have allowed us to continue to provide services.  But know that we are still coming to the office as an essential services provider to assist those in need during this difficult time.

This situation also has obviated the need for online access to the Surrogate’s Office. The current health crisis seems to have propelled us forward into a more internet based society that is now here to stay. We now have a plan in place to move forward with nearly full online access to enable people with mobility issues to complete just about any probate matter from the comfort of their own homes.

Three months ago I could not have imagined that we would be living in the state we are today. That being said, I think that we must all remain positive and look forward to the future.

I personally look forward to the day I can resume meeting with groups to continue to discuss the Surrogate’s Office and why it is so important to be prepared for certain moments in life, as we see each day right now.