If you are procrastinating when it comes to creating an estate plan, you may be wondering what happens if you simply die without one. Of course, you will not be around to find out, but it is important to understand the implications of not taking the necessary steps to create a valid will or estate plan. It is also important to understand that jotting down a will on your own or failing to comply with the legal guidelines for creating a valid will is essentially the same as not having a will at all.
New Jersey Intestate Succession Statutes
In New Jersey, if you die without a will or your will is found to be invalid, or not found at all, your estate will be distributed under New Jersey’s intestate succession statutes. These statutes provide guidelines for distributing the assets or an estate. They do not take the testator’s intent or desires into account in distributing assets, and instead, simply require following the written guidance. Many people do not realize that if they do not have a will or their will is invalid, the probate court will not hear any evidence of what they wanted or intended to do. Instead, the court will apply the state’s intestate succession statutes to distribute the testator’s assets to their immediate family.
Who Inherits Under Intestate Succession
Friends and loved ones who do not fall within a testator’s immediate family will not be eligible to inherit anything under New Jersey’s intestate succession statute. Instead, the statutes prioritize immediate family members. If a decedent has children but no spouse, the children will inherit everything. If the decedent has more than one child they will take an equal portion of the decedent’s estate. If the decedent has a spouse but no children or a spouse with whom they share children (and neither they nor their spouse has additional children with other partners), the spouse will inherit the entire estate.
If the decedent has a spouse and their spouse has children from another relationship, their spouse will inherit the first 25% of their estate, provided it is at least $50,000 and less than $200,000, as well as half of the remaining balance of their estate. The remaining balance will go to the decedent’s descendants. This same calculation will apply if the decedent has a spouse and children with someone other than their spouse.
If the decedent has a spouse and parents but no children, their spouse will inherit the first 25% of the decedent’s estate, as well as 75% of the remaining balance. The other 25% of the decedent’s estate will go to their parents. If the decedent does not have children or a spouse, but they have parents, the decedent’s parents will inherit everything. Finally, if a decedent does not have a spouse, children, or parents, but has siblings, their entire estate will go to their siblings.
Contact Giro Law in Hackensack, New Jersey, to Schedule a Consultation
If you have not yet created a valid will and estate plan, the time to make one is now. Contact Giro Law, located in Hackensack, New Jersey, today, to schedule a consultation and protect your future, assets, and loved ones.