Everyone knows something about wills and everyone knows it is important to have a will, but what if you die without a will and are subject to what is called Intestate Succession.
If you die without a will in New Jersey there are very specific laws that will determine how your probate estate will be distributed. If you are married with children, your spouse will not inherit everything. If your spouse is the parent of all of your children, your spouse will receive the first $50,000 and the balance will be split equally between your spouse and your children. If any of your children have a parent other than your surviving spouse, your entire estate will be split equally between your spouse and your children. If you are not married and have no descendants, your parents will inherit your estate, or if neither of your parents is living, other specified family members will inherit your estate.
If you die without a will, an administrator will be appointed to manage your estate. Generally, a family member will be appointed by the court as the administrator and will typically have to pay for a surety bond before being authorized to serve.
If your children are minors, their inheritance will generally be held by a court-appointed guardian of their property. The guardian is most often the surviving parent, who generally must obtain a surety bond, which is a cost that can be avoided with a will. Funds held by a guardian are turned over to your child when the child is 18 years old. If you would like the funds held for a child until a later age, you will need to make such provisions in your will by creating a trust and appointing a trustee.
Considering the ease and low cost of a standard will, it is something everyone should do once they become of a certain age and have accumulated assets or have children.
To set up a consultation concerning any last will and testament matter, contact us online or call us at (201) 656-1000.