Avoiding Probate When the Estate is Small

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

N.J.S.3B:10-4 is a great little statute. It addresses the issue of when heirs are entitled to assets without the need for estate administration. It states that where the total value of the real and personal assets of the estate of an intestate (dying without a will) does not exceed $20,000 and the intestate leaves no surviving spouse, and one of his heirs obtains the consent in writing of the remaining heirs, if any, he or she is entitled to receive the assets of the estate for the benefit of all the heirs and creditors without estate administration or entering into a bond. Upon executing the affidavit, and upon filing it with the consent of all the beneficiaries, he or she shall have all the rights, powers and duties of an administrator duly appointed for the estate and may be sued and required to account as if he had been appointed administrator by the Surrogate or the Superior Court.

Under this law the affidavit of the administrator is required to set forth the residence of the decendent at his death, the names, residences and relationships of all of the heirs and specifically the nature, location and value of the real and personal assets and also a statement that the value of the intestate’s real and personal assets will not exceed $20,000.

The consent and the affidavit shall be filed and recorded, in the office of the Surrogate or, if the proceeding is before the Superior Court, then in the office of the clerk of that court. Where the proposed administrator lives and is domiciled outside this State, the Surrogate may authorize in writing that the affidavit be executed in the affiant’s domicile before any of the officers authorized to take acknowledgements or proofs.

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