While it is always best practice to compose and validate a will detailing how your assets should be divided after your death, not everyone follows this advice or has the opportunity to do so. If someone dies without a will, their property and assets would then be divided in accordance with New Jersey’s intestate succession laws.

Understanding the laws of intestacy in Manalapan Township can be crucial not only to understanding what assets certain parties might expect to inherit after a family member’s death but also in ensuring you receive the property you are legally entitled to. A qualified trust and estates lawyer could explain which intestacy guidelines apply to your particular scenario and work with you to pursue an outcome that is best for your case.

How State Law Addresses Intestate Succession

Depending on the circumstances, intestate succession allows various relatives to receive different amounts of a decedent’s assets if that person died without a will. Generally speaking, if a deceased person’s spouse survives for at least 120 hours after that person’s death, according to New Jersey Revised Statutes §3B:3-32, they would be first in line to receive all of the decedent’s intestate assets. Next in line, in order of priority is the decedent’s children, surviving parents, and siblings.

However, certain scenarios may lead to intestate assets being split between multiple parties. If a decedent’s spouse had children with both the decedent and with someone else, the spouse would receive 25 percent of the decedent’s intestate assets—provided that amount is between $50,000 and $200,000 in value—plus 50 percent of whatever intestate assets are left, and the decedent’s biological children would receive the rest.

Various circumstances could also impact the inheritance of any non-biological children. While legally adopted children are treated the same as biological children by the laws of intestacy in Manalapan Township, foster children and stepchildren cannot recover intestate assets unless the decedent has no other surviving relatives, as per N.J.R.S. §3B:5-4. There are many more unique circumstances like these that can vastly complicate intestate succession, so working with a skilled attorney to interpret how state law affects a particular situation is essential.

What Property Is Exempt from Intestate Division?

It is important to note that assets which a will would not address would also not be divided based on intestacy laws in Manalapan Township. Typically, assets that are ineligible for intestate division are those which the decedent owned solely in their own name such as property in a living trust, retirement funds, and securities, and other financial instruments held in payable-upon-death accounts.

Instead of passing automatically to the first eligible parties named by intestate succession laws, these types of assets would go to their named beneficiary or a surviving co-owner. This process would occur the exact same way even if the decedent did have a legally recognized will.

Work Through Intestacy Laws with a Manalapan Township Attorney’s Help

On top of being an emotionally charged experience, determining who inherits what in the wake of a loved one’s death is often an immensely complex endeavor as well. This is especially true when someone dies without a will, in which case most of their assets would be split up based on a series of intestacy rules that can be extremely difficult for anyone who is not already a legal expert to parse.

Fortunately, a single phone call could put you in touch with a seasoned professional who could explain the laws of intestacy in Manalapan Township to you and ensure you understand what rights you have and what property you should expect to receive. For more information or to schedule a private consultation, call today.