One of the main goals of the estate planning process is to prepare for what will happen to your assets after you pass away. A will, a document that serves as the centerpiece of most estate plans, informs the probate court which heirs should receive your property. From a legal perspective, a will overrides state guidelines known as intestacy laws.
However, these intestacy laws are still important because they determine what happens to your assets if you die without a will. If you pass away without drafting a proper will, a court uses these laws to distribute assets to your surviving family members. Understanding these intestacy laws is crucial because it informs you of the consequences of creating your estate plan without care. If you want to learn more about the laws of intestacy in Mount Laurel, a dedicated wills attorney could assess your case and explain these legal doctrines in detail.
When Might Intestacy Laws Apply to an Estate Plan?
There are two main scenarios where a probate court in Mount Laurel might be required to invoke the state’s intestacy laws. The first involves a person passing away without a valid will. In these situations, the court will usually move forward, applying intestacy regulations to the entirety of the decedent’s estate.
Meanwhile, if a will does exist but the document does not account for the entirety of a decedent’s possessions, intestacy laws might apply to the remainder of the unallocated assets. If a Mount Laurel resident needs to learn whether the state’s laws of intestacy would apply to their unique inheritance, they would benefit from meeting with a knowledgeable attorney.
Intestacy Laws in Detail and the Redistribution of Assets
New Jersey Revised Statute § 3B:5-4 thoroughly explains intestacy regulations, transparently outlining a legal hierarchy of which family members will receive a portion of the decedent’s estate should that person die without a comprehensive will.
Generally speaking, the laws give preference to any surviving spouses or partners. If there is no surviving spouse, or if the spouse’s entitlement to assets does not cover the entirety of the estate, assets should be distributed to the remaining beneficiaries, using a concept known as distribution by representation.
Distribution by representation means that members of a surviving generation will all receive an equal share of assets, items of property. For example, if a decedent passes away and there is no spouse but there are four surviving children, those individuals will all receive equal shares of the value of the estate.
Real estate holdings and expensive items can complicate this aspect of dividing an estate by intestacy, but a hardworking lawyer in Mount Laurel could assess a decedent’s unclaimed property and help keep negotiations civil.
Call an Attorney About the Laws of Intestacy in Mount Laurel
One major benefit of having a clear and comprehensive will is that overrides the state’s laws concerning intestacy. These impactful regulations could significantly impact your estate plan, so understanding how they apply to the average case is rather important.
To learn more about how drafting a will could help your family avoid probate issues or the laws of intestacy in Mount Laurel, reach out to our office today.