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

One of the reasons why I tell my clients they need to get a Last Will or Trust is because should they die, their property is subject to the default laws that control where their property will go.  Do you have a family member you want to disinherit?  Well, if you die without a will, that family member may get a portion of your estate.  A client just recently came to me seeking to administer an estate with no will where the decedent had no spouse, no children, and the parents and grandparents were dead.  He was the last living sibling, but his eight other brothers and sisters had children.  So the question was who gets the estate and how it would be distributed.

Well it turns out that under the intestacy laws, our client, as the last remaining sibling of the deceased still alive only gets a portion of the estate.  He doesn’t get the whole thing?  Not under our intestacy laws.  N.J.S.A. §3B:5-6, states that “the estate or part thereof is divided into as many equal shares as there are:… (2) deceased descendants in the same generation who left surviving descendants.”  This would mean the children of the deceased siblings, who are our client’s nieces and nephews, get a portion of the Estate.  This means the Estate has to notify all of these nieces and nephews about their inheritance rights to a portion of the estate.

So how much $$$ will everybody get?  The way the statute is written and operates, the sibling (our client) would get whatever share he would be entitled to under the law, and the estate of the dead brothers and sisters will split the rest of the estate amongst themselves.  So for example, in the case above, our client would receive a 1/9 share of the proceeds, and the nieces and nephews the remaining 8/9 portion.  The calculations become really interesting if there are a lot of offspring because then you are dealing with complicated fractions to determine who gets what.

Bottom line is don’t leave your children and your siblings to have to sort this type of mess out.  Get a will done so you can make sure your property is disposed in the way you want it done.

To discuss your NJ Estate 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.