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What Happens If I Die Intestate?

  • By: Eric Hannum, Esq.
  • Published: October 12, 2015
What Happens if I Die Intestate?

Dying without a valid will is also known as dying intestate. This means that you have not specified the beneficiaries who will receive your assets after your passing.

In New Jersey, intestate laws exist to handle this type of case. If you die without a will, most of your assets will go to your closest relative. If you are married, this is your spouse. If not, the next in line is your children, and beyond them, your parents and finally, your siblings. Under New Jersey’s intestate laws, more than one of these individuals or groups can collect a portion of a deceased individual’s estate. Other types of property are not subject to intestate laws and are instead administered to their co-owners or named beneficiaries.

Familiarize yourself with New Jersey’s intestate laws to gain an understanding of how they might affect your estate or that of a loved one. But do understand that in order to completely determine who is entitled to receive specific pieces of your property and how you want your monetary assets to be divided, you will need to work with an experienced probate attorney to write a will. Having a will in place will make the probate process simple and straightforward for your loved ones in the future.

Who Is Entitled To Receive My Estate?

This depends on your closest relative at the time of your death. Generally, your spouse is entitled to receive your property. But if you are married, have children with your spouse, and either you or your spouse has children from another relationship, the property is divided among your spouse and children according to a formula contained within the legal code.

Property can also be divided among an individual’s children and his or her parents if the parents are still alive and there is no spouse. Talk to your attorney about all of the possible beneficiary paths that can occur.

Which Property Is Exempt From Intestate Laws?

Certain pieces of property are not distributed according to intestate laws. These include the following:

  • Property kept in a living trust
  • IRA, 401k, and other retirement account funds
  • Property owned with another individual through joint tenancy
  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Funds in a payable-on-death bank account
  • Securities in a transfer-on-death account

These automatically go to their other named owners.

Will And Trust Attorneys In New Jersey

It is never too soon to begin planning your estate. To get started on this process with an attorney who has the knowledge and experience necessary to successfully guide you through the process of ensuring that your loved ones seamlessly receive your assets after you are gone, work with The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. Call our firm today at (732) 365-3299 to schedule a consultation with a member of our team. We are here to help you and other clients throughout Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth, Mercer, and Middlesex counties.

Eric Hannum, Esq.

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