You didn’t have a will written up during your lifetime. And your estate will now be divided up in accordance to New Jersey’s Rules of Intestacy. The rules of intestacy are complex and demonstrate what happens if no will is present.
While a lot of assets will be passed through intestate succession, many will not, including:
- Property granted to a living trust
- Life insurance
- Retirement accounts
- Bank accounts payable on death
- Property owned jointly
These are the main assets that won’t pass through, but there are more that exist. All of these items will be granted to the beneficiary as stated in the corresponding document, or the other person if the property is owned jointly.
Understanding Where Property Goes
Property will be divided up in a magnitude of ways:
In most cases, your spouse will inherit everything. There are a few nuances to this rule:
- Spouse and parents both living.
- Spouse and descendants from you and someone other than your spouse (children from a former marriage, for example).
- Spouse and descendants from the living spouse, and your living spouse has descendants from another relationship.
In all of these cases, your spouse inherits 25% of your property with a value of no less than $50,000 and no more than $200,000. Your spouse will also receive half of the remaining assets, while your descendants split the rest.
In the event that your parents remain, your spouse would receive two-thirds of the balance and your parents would receive the remainder.
Note: Your spouse is not entitled to the entirety of your estate under the rules of the State of New Jersey. If you want your spouse to receive all of your assets, you must write a will to ensure asset division in accordance with your wishes.
If you were to die with children and no spouse, your children will inherit the entirety of your estate.
If you die without a spouse or descendants, your parents inherit everything.
You are not married, have no descendants and your parents are no longer alive. In this case, all of your assets will be divided among your siblings. What a lot of people do not understand is that siblings or “half-relatives” are considered “whole” in the State of New Jersey.
What this means is that your half brother or sister will have a right to your property.
New Jersey’s Survivorship Period
A final note that needs to be stressed deals with the survivorship period in the state. For a person to be granted any part of your estate, they must outlive you for a period of no less than 120 hours.
For example, if your brother died 119 hours after you, the estate of your brother would not receive any of your property as a result.
This is often seen when siblings are involved in motor vehicle accidents together and die within days of each other.
When a will is written, all of the above rules will not be invoked. A will ensures that your property is distributed as per your wishes and will not follow the rules of intestacy.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm focusing on family law for men and fathers. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has experience working with many clients planning estates and drafting wills. You can read more on this topic by visiting our Estate Planning blog. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.