Addressing Child Support Liens: Is an Executor or Administrator Liable for Distributions to Beneficiaries if a Child Support Lien Goes Unpaid? (Part 3 of a 4 Part Series)

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Probate Estate Administration Attorney

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series I introduced you to the topic of child support liens and their impact on asset distribution. I also discussed running a child support judgement search as well as judgements entered in foreign jurisdictions. Now we will dive into non-probate transfers and how they relate to our subject.

Non-Probate Transfers

Generally, New Jersey law exempts the proceeds of life insurance from the claims of the decedent’s creditors. N.J.S.A 17B:24-6,-9. However, this broad exemption has been interpreted to protect beneficiaries from commercial creditors and not necessarily from support obligations. DeCeglia v. Estate of Colletti, 265 N.J. Super. 128 (App. Div. 1993).

In DeCeglia, the Appellate Division held that a mother may pursue a father’s child support obligation from life insurance proceeds paid to third-party beneficiaries. There, the decedent fathered a child born post-mortem. The decedent, who was not married to the child’s mother, died without providing for his child. The decedent’s assets primarily consisted of three policies of life insurance, which named his mother and sister as beneficiaries. The child’s mother brought a claim against the estate and the insurance company claiming that the policies should be applied to the decedent’s child support obligation. The court held that the life insurance was available to satisfy the decedent’s child support obligation.

To discuss your NJ Probate Estate Administration matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.